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The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King, 2022 — 20 Nov 22

The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King, 2022

About the image: Christ in Judgment, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=47457 [retrieved November 1, 2020]. Original source: http://www.yorckproject.de. Used by permission.

RCL Year C, Proper 29 (Alternate Readings)
Jeremiah 23:1-6, Psalm 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Saint Luke 23:33-43

I dare to say The Messiah will chase you down very soon. There are at least two Messiahs that could do the chasing. One, the one I mean this minute, is Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah. Soon the radio, concert halls, and not a few churches will perform it, and you will hear it. It will chase you down. In the twelfth piece of the oratorio, a chorus, you will hear Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah, the true Messiah, that “the government shall be upon his shoulder.”[1]

On the Last Sunday after Pentecost, a Sunday some name The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we may well ask what his government is like.

The Feast of that name the Prayer Book gives us in every particularity but the name. In the Collect we named him “King of kings and Lord of lords”[2] and declared that it is God’s will to restore all things in him. Pius XI proclaimed the Feast in the Year of Our Lord 1925 in response to the growing nationalism and secularism developing after the First World War. The Feast reminds the faithful and the wider world that ultimate and final power lives only in the hands of God. Our allegiance to God, therefore, triumphs all other claims on our loyalty. I ask again, how does the King of kings and Lord of lords govern?

We see him in the Gospel today holding no scepter or orb. He wears no fine clothes, and his crown is a failed joke put upon him by a jeering crowd. This king reveals his omnipotence through the appearance of weakness.

The first words out of his mouth are “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”[3] He forgives, and asks his Father to forgive, those who shamefully exploit his apparent weakness. He governs by forgiveness. Indeed, this is the Messiah that you want to chase you down.

Despite the defiling miasma of wrongdoing and mistaken identity, a criminal, a man rightly being capitally executed, recognizes him when he speaks to his fellow criminal about Jesus: “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”[4] Jesus voluntarily and willingly undergoes the capital punishment deserved by others to save them from their just desserts in the life to come. Surely, you will not run from this Messiah when he gives you chase.

As we end one Church Year and begin another year of grace and opportunity, let us offer ourselves to this forgiving and selfless King without reserve and without hesitation and be open to receive whatever he gives us and whatever path he chooses for us to walk. Will we not be ruled and governed by his forgiveness and self-sacrifice? Let this Eucharist and our Holy Communion with him today seal our determination to be his and to belong only to him.

[1] Isaiah 9:6.

[2] The BCP (1979), page 236.

[3] Saint Luke 23:34.

[4] Saint Luke 23:40-41.

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