Jesus Christ is King
“Jesus Christ is King”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Feast of Christ the King
November 26, 2017
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11, 20-24; Psalm 95:1-7a
Our God is a God of goodness and graciousness. He doesn’t bring evil upon His people but restoration, holiness, freedom and new life. Anything that God wants us to do is always for good. We want to celebrate greatly today, the feast of Christ the King.
Psalm 136 tells us to “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting….to Him who alone does great wonders.” Get that in your mind. He alone does great wonders. We want to do something big and great but God says He alone does great wonders. That’s not our goal and task. We are not to build a great church. Jesus said “I will build My Church”, yet many times we take things upon ourselves thinking that we’re going to do it for God. We think that if we do something for God, He will reward us. Does a servant get a reward? A servant is paid to do what he’s doing. We should get rid of this attitude which prevents us from doing what God really wants us to do.
In the Old Testament reading for today, God sets a pattern for us. He tells us what’s to come. In the Gospel, we are told of things that were prepared before the foundation of the world. Before the earth was created, everything was accomplished in the mind of God. In the beginning there was darkness, then He said, “Let there be light!” It wasn’t the light of the sun, but a revelation of who He is and His power. It also says something about us, that once we set something in our minds that we want to accomplish, the potential to complete it is assured. Our problem is we don’t believe that. God won’t give you a dream and vision without equipping you to do it. I read someone say that there are more accomplished things in the cemetery than there are in life because many of those people died with dreams that they didn’t fulfill. Had they fulfilled them we wouldn’t be in the condition we’re in today. I say this for one purpose – if God established it, it will be. Before the foundation of the world there was Christ. He chose you in holiness and righteousness before the earth was founded. We are in holiness and righteousness today because that was God’s dream and vision and He brought it to reality in Christ. That shows us that we have greater potential than we think. We allow people around us to tell us we can’t do certain things when God said all things are possible. We need to renew our minds and prove the greatness of God.
In Ezekiel, God shares with us His compassion, mercy and grace to His people. He wasn’t happy with the things they did. They rebelled against Him, were taken into captivity and spread among the many kingdoms of those who had captured them. God says to them in this prophecy that “the day is coming when I will find My sheep that have been spread all around the world and round up My people”. We’ve been divided for many reasons instead of being the people of God, living in what He has given us. We’ve lost sight of that. But God says the day is coming when He will round up His sheep, restore them, establish them, bring them to a place of security and surround them with provision. But then He also says that when this day comes – and He’s talking about the Last Judgment – He’s going to sit on His Throne and separate the sheep from the goats. Sheep are humble; they follow. They aren’t arrogant but are easily led. The goat is stubborn and always wants the highest place. On a hilly place, you’ll find the goats at the highest point. They fight each other for the highest place. The sheep won’t do that; they are humble. They stay on the lowest places where the grass is. God is talking here about personality and character, how that you can be one who’s humble and follows or you can be stubborn and do your own thing regardless of the consequences. After separating the sheep from the goat, He said He will correct and discipline the fat ones. He’s not talking about size but about those who have much – “fat”. They have no lack but abundance. He said, “You have abused the lean ones. You’ve knocked them out; pushed them aside in order that you’ll prosper and get what you want”. Look around us at the fat ones who keep the lean ones in poverty and slavery for their own enrichment. This is very prevalent in today’s society. Today there are several wealthy families controlling the economies of the world for their benefit. On the Day of Judgment, they will have to account for what they’ve done because they didn’t take care of the hungry and the weak. Here God is telling us that He will come back for His own and give them a Shepherd who will take care of them. That Shepherd is Jesus Christ. He has taken care of us. It didn’t matter what our sins are; He forgave us. He gave us holiness and righteousness even before the world was established (Ephesians) because this was planned by God. He knew us before we were; before the world was. You can deny it – you have a free will – but this is what God established and we can have that assurance and hope. One day all corruption will stop and those who have put others in slavery to enrich themselves will be punished. So relax. We may not have much but God takes care of us. He causes the earth to provide. If we can get the people out of Manila and into the provinces where there’s land, they could feed themselves and it would cost them very little. But our “goat” attitude keeps us where we want to be and we get sick in the process.
In Ephesians 1, Paul talks powerfully to us about how God sent Jesus as the great Shepherd to give us all that we need. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In our reading Paul is concerned that we would see and understand that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will give us the wisdom, revelation and knowledge of Him. When you know Christ, you have peace and serenity because you’ll realize what He did for you. Read Colossians. Take time to study it and understand that you are in Christ and everything that He has done is yours. He’s seated at the right hand of the Father and spiritually, we are seated together with Him in the heavenly places. We’re talking about the spiritual realm, about that which is eternal. What God is trying to do is to get us where He is, at His level, so that we are like Him, created in His image and likeness. This is His desire for us and He will get it done. Paul wants us to know Christ because to know Him is to realize who we are; that we have the ability to overcome anything. He wants us to know “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe….which He brought about in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named….” We allow certain names to control us, like the BIR. Jesus showed us that He didn’t ignore those institutions. He asked His disciples to get a fish and out of its mouth, He got a coin to pay His taxes with. God took care of Him and He’s showing us that He also takes care of us. “He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Here’s the provision of God. It’s in our DNA but we don’t understand that it belongs to us. Two men in history grasped this. They didn’t die but were taken up to heaven because they understood the righteousness of God and they avoided what was never intended for man – death. Scripture tells us that there are those who won’t have to die when Christ comes. Christ is King. He’s Master. Yes, there may be all the confusion and rebellion around us but just relax. He will not lose the battle.
I encourage you to read Colossians 2. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” This is God’s provision for our lives. I’ve shared with you before about the Canadian doctor who was called by God to go to Africa at the time of the black plague. He took his family with him, faced the plague and helped the tribes conquer it. Other doctors were puzzled that he didn’t get the plague even when he touched those who were infected. He asked them to get someone who was foaming in the mouth and put the saliva on his hand. When they examined the saliva on his hand, they were amazed that the disease was dead. He was greater than the evil. In our lives, this is the potential of God’s gift to us if only we understand and believe it. Remember, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We sing the songs and say the words but do we live out this truth so that the world will see that He is King? We have problems like the rest of the world and when we don’t overcome them but let them conquer us, we’re not being the witnesses He wants us to be. The feast of Christ the King comes at the end of Ordinary Time, the season where the Holy Spirit is teaching us how to live out this life He’s given us. He’s above everything. He can change governments and tax laws. There’s nothing He can’t change except Himself because all things are subject to Him. We must understand this. He wants us to be like Him, with the assurance and confidence that overcomes and not be overcome. I remind you of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness after His baptism. He was taken by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted. After 40 days of fasting from food and water, He was hungry and Satan asked Him to turn the rock to bread. Jesus didn’t deny that He was hungry. Sometimes we avoid conflict by lying. Jesus didn’t do it. He simply said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. The enemy lost the battle. He didn’t listen to nor accept every single thing that the enemy brought against Him. You don’t listen to what the devil says because he is the father of lies. We have to make sure that we hear what God is saying and not allow the enemy to deceive us. Know God. Understand Him. Listen to Him.
The Gospel today gives us a very powerful message. God shares with us our responsibilities. He said when the time comes, He will separate the sheep from the goats and He will give the goats a hard time because they did not take care of the poor. I saw something advertised some weeks ago that the Marcos gold can take care of the problems of the world, but it’s nothing compared to what the rest of the wealthy families have. These families can solve all the problems of the world with their wealth but they aren’t doing it. They are keeping the wealth to themselves and for this they will be judged. God called the sheep and said to them, “Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world”. The Kingdom is our inheritance. “I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me. I was sick and you visited Me. I was in prison and you visited Me.” Notice what Jesus judged the sheep or the righteous with. They weren’t great wonders; those belong to God. Our task is to be the instrument of God’s love to others – feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty – simple things. All He asks is that we care for others. We are to clothe the naked and visit the sick. These don’t require much effort, money nor time. We are to visit those in prison. Prison could mean other things. An elderly person who can’t get outside of the house because of a physical ailment is in prison. Can we not care for and minister to them? It’s a simple thing He asks of us. He doesn’t demand that we do great things. They asked, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison?” He replied, “To the extent that you did it to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me”. How many times do we get irritated by the poor begging on the streets, knocking on our car window and smearing it? God wants us to take care of them and not look down on them; to build them up and restore them. We build our bank accounts for our future but how much of a future does that give us when we look at eternity? God takes care of His own. He supplies. I can stand here and tell you the many times He supplied our needs. God takes care of your needs when you’re taking care of others.
Then He turned to the goats – the arrogant who don’t do anything for others. He told them, “You didn’t take care of Me….to the extent that you didn’t do these to the least of My brothers, you didn’t do them to Me”. He cursed them and sent them to the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels. They asked, “When did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison?” He said the same thing: “You didn’t feed Me when I was hungry, didn’t give Me a drink when I was thirsty, didn’t give Me clothes when I was naked, didn’t visit Me when I was sick and in prison….what you didn’t do to the least of your brothers, you didn’t do to Me”. This challenges us to see the Kingship of God. He wants His people to be taken care of, for us to make sure that our brothers are taken care of. I’m not saying that you have to pay for everything. He’s talking about basic needs – food, clothing, a place to stay. When God created man in the garden, He gave him everything he would ever need and He expects us to do the same for each other. We have to set our minds to do this.
I wish I knew these things years ago because I wanted to build a cathedral which would’ve cost hundreds of millions. I wanted something big. That wasn’t God. I thought it was, but it wasn’t. What He wants is for us to take care of each other – comfort, strengthen, encourage, give water, clothe – simple things. We are to do these as God’s ambassadors. We’re not ruling over everything. We’re ruling over the enemy’s power to destroy life because life is sacred and God asks us to take care of that life. This is God’s Kingship – not letting the enemy destroy anyone. God intended us to be His hand. “I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; thirsty and you gave Me to drink. I was lost and you took Me in; naked and you clothed Me. When I was sick, you comforted Me. You gave someone courage to know that somebody cared.” How many times do we feel that nobody cares? God is telling us at the end of Ordinary Time that this is our responsibility. He’s sitting on the Throne. He is King. He’s going to be the Judge, not society or institutions. What did we do to His creation? Can you imagine God’s heart hurting because we cut down so many trees to build concrete buildings? What must God be thinking when what He gave us to take care of we destroy? Remember, we will answer to Him. He is King.
There’s a story about St. Francis of Assisi. One day he was out riding his horse and alongside the road was a leper. Lepers were cast out of society. They couldn’t go near people or to the cities. They had to live alone because the disease is contagious. St. Francis got off his horse and embraced the leper. The story goes that as he did, the face of the leper became the face of Christ. What we do to the least of them, we do to God. We’re equipped and empowered to do things for the Lord. This is our job, our task. Many times we do things because we want to get credit from Him, but this is our task. Remember the story of the servant who worked all day on the field? When he came home, his master asked him to serve him dinner then clean up. Only then could he relax and eat. That’s what a servant does; it’s his responsibility. We want to do it differently. We want to be the master rather than the servant of God.
We end this season and next Sunday we begin all over again because the fathers knew that we don’t pay that much attention. Hopefully the day will come when we will wake up and begin to grasp little by little what God is telling us. Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life”. A man who begins to give aid heartily is better than he who only promises and leads another to hope but never fulfills it. How many times have we promised people something and they put their hope on that promise but we don’t fulfill it? How many times have I read this verse over the years but this month, God wanted me to grasp it? Don’t make a promise if you’re not going to fulfill it because you’re giving hope and if you’re not going to fulfill that hope, you’re going to be the goat. I challenge us to be what God wants us to be. Take this as instruction, not discipline because we’re all guilty. He gave us much and we need to share that with others. If we do, God will take care of us. This is the feast of Christ the King. We’re not there yet but we have hope because when God makes a promise, He fulfills it. He said that before the foundation of the world, He gave us an inheritance of eternity with Him. It has been on His mind and He will fulfill it. Scripture says old men will dream dreams and young men will have visions. God says that about all so God gave us something that we must fulfill. He is King. We are His servants and we need to build His Kingdom. That’s the principle: servants build His Kingdom by being His hand extended to others.