Kings and Tyrants: A Homily for November 24, 2019 by Deacon Alan Doty

Have you ever actually met a king? I haven’t, but I have met a queen. I worked for a while in a hospital in Sweden and one day Queen Silvia came to tour a new wing. We all got to shake her hand, and it was over in a moment. As an American, I remember being somewhat…unimpressed.

Today we are invited to acknowledge that Jesus is, in fact our King. We sing about Christ the King in our hymns, study his kingship in our Catechism and read of it in the Bible. But the question for each of us today is- Is Jesus Christ truly your King?

The story in our first reading – when the tribal chiefs of Israel proclaimed David to be their king – reminds us how important kingship is.  Kings protect us, and that’s really nice. But they also have the authority to command us. Do you allow Christ to command you?

Each one of us must make a choice. We choose Jesus to be our king, or we choose another king to rule over us in his place. Don’t be fooled. Someone or something will fill the role of king in your life. You must choose, in fact you make the choice several times in each day.

There are other candidates for kingship in our lives and they are constantly clamoring for our obedience. Fear is one candidate. King fear protects you from new and possibly painful experiences, commanding you to avoid openly expressing your thoughts, emotions and faith. King fear is also a tyrant that saps your energy, provokes you to avoid rising to challenges, and causes you to withdraw within yourself.

Guilt is another candidate for kingship of our lives. Guilt over past wrongdoings or plans gone awry. Anger and envy are two strong contenders for kingship. Pride and greed are always frontrunners for the role of commanding our thoughts, our actions, and our lives. There are others, each unique to our individual story.

Let us look at the two thieves crucified next to Jesus. We don’t know much about them, but the job description for a thief would probably include greed and pride, maybe anger. We know by their own words that they are in fact guilty of their crimes.

One thief remained true to his chosen kings of pride, anger, and greed by insulting and belittling Jesus. The other did not. The good thief acknowledged his guilt, overthrew his false kings, and called upon Jesus as his king by crying out “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus, who rules from the throne of his cross, demonstrates his kingship by the authority to pardon the good thief and grant him salvation.

Jesus Christ is our true and natural king. “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent“ writes St. Paul in our second reading.

Is Jesus Christ truly your King? Do you obey him, give him authority over your life, and look to him to guide you? Do you have faith in his promises? Do you reverence and worship him? Or is he just a nice idea, one priority among many, a second or third thought, someone you look to only when you need him?

If asked what the opposite of faith is, most people will respond, “doubt” or “distrust” or even “denial”. But Pope Francis once wrote that the opposite of faith is idolatry. The idolatry of giving allegiance to a false king; a false tyrant.  The idolatry of allowing king fear, king pride, king guilt, king envy or any other king to rule your life.  To let Jesus rule in your life you must dethrone the false kings that seek to rule and manipulate you.

Then let our prayer be of thanksgiving for our King. Give thanks to the Father, who “delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.” Christ from his throne of the cross dethrones and reveals all false kings and tyrants.

Thus we may enter into paradise with our true King.

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