THE IMAGE OF CHRIST THE KING – CRISTO REY – HAS BEEN A PART OF CATHOLIC SYMBOLISM GOING BACK FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.  AND IN THE LITURGY IT IS USUALLY ASSOIATES WITH THE ATATEMENT OF JESUS AT HIS TRIAL BEFORE PONTIUS PILATE THAT “MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD.”

WELL, THAT KINGDOM MAY NOT BE OF THIS WORLD.  BUT THE CHURCH IS VERY MUCH OF THIS WORLD.  AND OVER THE YEARS – THE LAST FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OR SO TO BE MORE EXACT – THE CHURCH – AMD ALL THE CHURCH – HAVE PLAYED REAL ROLES IN THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD.  FOR BETTER OR WORSE, AND OFTEN FOR WORSE.

WHY IS THAT?  BECAUSE THE POLITICAL KINGDOMS WE KNOW – THE EMPIRES OF EUROPE ALONG WITH THME TURKS – HAVE WORKED VERY HARD TO BRING THE REST OF THE WORLD UNDER THEIR CONTROL, AND ENDED UP DOING IT VERY SUCCESSFULLY.  AS I HAVE MENTIONED MORE THAN ONCE, BY THE START OF  WORLD WAR I THE DIFFERENT KINGDOMS IN EUROPE – FROM DENMARK AND HOLLAND AND BELGIUM TO THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH AND SPANISH, GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN, HELP SOMETHING LIKE 70% OF THE WORLD IN ECONOMIC CULTURAL SUBJECTION AND SLAVE-LIKE CONDTIONS IF NOT OUTRIGHT SLAVERY.  INDIA, AFRICA, THE MIDDLE EAST, SOUTHEAST ASIA, MUCH OF SOUITH AMERICA.  AND WE HAD OUR OWN PART OF IT IN THE CARIBBEAN AND THE PHILIPPINES.  AND IT DIDNM’T END WITH WORLD WAR 1.  IN 1935 BENITO MUSOLINI’S ITALY INVADED AND SEIZED ETHIOPIA.

THE CHURCHES IN EACH OF THESE COUNTRIES TOOK PART IN THIS.  IT WAS VERY PROFITABLE.  AND IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY TO SEPARATE THEIR WORK AS CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES FROM THEIR WORK AS PROMOTERS OF FRENCH AND ENGLISH AND AMERICAN CULTURE AND RULE.

WHEN THE REVERENCE FOR CHRIST THE KING IS BROUGHT IN BY CLERGY WHO ARE PROTECTED BY FOREIGN SOLDIERS IT CAN GIVE A SENSE THAT ANY KING IS NOT ON THEIR SIDE.  BECAUSE THE KINGDOM’S THAT BROUGHT THESE PEOPLE HERE, UNLIKE CHRIST’S KINGDOM, WERE VERY MUCH OF THIS WORLD. RIGHT IN THE MILITARY BARRACKS ALL OVER THEIR COUNTRY.

THAT FORTUNATELY HAS CHANGED. AND, WITH A POPE LIVED UNDER THE SUBJECTION THAT WAS PART OF THAT  EXPLOITED WORLD, WE ARE HOPEFULLY BACK TO SEEING CHRIST AS THE GOOD SHEPHERD.  WHICH IS THE WAY HE DEFINED HIMSELF.  AND WE COULD GET BACK TO SEEING OURSELVES AS PARTNERS IN THAT DEMANDING BUT REALLY WONDERFUL WORK.

AND GOD KNOWS IT IS NEEDED – VERY BADLY, VERY NEARBY, AND FOR A LONG TIME.  AMERICANS HEAR THAT SOMEONE IS SICK.  AND ALMOST INSTINCTIVELY WE WANT TO SAY,  ‘BUT SHE’S GETTING BETTER NOW.’  BEING A SHEPHERD – BEING A PASTOR, WHICH IS JUST THE LATIN FORD FOR SHEPHERD – MEANS LIVING WITH THE REALITY, ACCEPTING THE REALITY, THAT – IN AS MANY CASES S NOT – SHE OR HE OR WHOEVER IS NOT BETTER NOW AND THAT IS A REALITY WE ALL HAVE TO ACCEPT AS AN ORDINARY PART OF OUR HUMAN FAMILY AND OUR HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS.

BUT THAT OTHER, WEIRD VIEW OF JESUS AS KING OF THE WORLD, AS I SEE IT, IS A WAY TO SAY THAT PASTORS, SHEPHERD, DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE HUMAN SITUATION OF ORDINARY PEOPLE. THEIR JOB IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE IMAGES OF THE CHURCH – OR THE CHURCHES –  AS POWERFUL. TRUTHFUL, AND HAVE TO BE PROMOTED AND PROTECTED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLD.  AND UP UNTIL A FEW GENERATIONS AGO THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLD MEANT THE COUONTRIES THAT RAN THE REST OF THE WORLD.

ONE OF THE GREAT BENEFITS OF BEING A LITTLE PLACE LIKE WE ARE ON THE EDGE OF THE LOCAL WORLD IS THAT WE ARE FREE TO BE WHO WE ARE.  WE TRY TO BE OF HELP TO OURSELVES AND TO OTHERS NOT BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE WATCHING US – BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THEY’RE NOT. SO WE ARE FREE TO DO WHAT WE CAN AS THE NEEDS CROP UP BEFORE US. AND I THINK THAT WE ARE GOOD AT THAT BECAUSE A LOT OF US GREW IN FAMILIES THAT DID THAT.  IN THER OWN WAYS THEY TRIED TO BE OF HELP.

I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS A KID, BACK IN THE LATE 1930S, WE’D GET GUYS – GUYS WMHO WEBNT ON THE BUM SO THERE’F BE ONE LESS MOUTH TO FEED AT HOME – THEY’S COME TO THE HOUSE – THE BACK DOOR. THEY SAW THE KIDS AND SO THEY SKED MY MOTHER IF SHE COULD SPARE SOMETHING TO EAT.  AND SHE ALWAYS SAID YES.  THE SAME THING.  A FRIED EGG SANDWICH A CUP OF COFFEE.  NOT MUCH.  BUT ENOUGH PROBABLY TO GET HIM THROUGH TO DINNER TIME, WHEREVER AND WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE.

CHRIST THE KING, A KING WHOSE KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD.  BUT WHAT IS HIS, THAT IS OF THIS WORLD, IS US.  US WITH OUR IMPERFECT AND LIMITED ABILITIES AND RESOURCES.  AND WHAT ALSO IS OF THIS WORLD IS PEOPLE WHO NEED SUPPORYT. AROUND HERE MANY WHO NEED IT BAD.

I SEE THE PUZZLED LOOKS ON THE FACES OF VISITORS NOW AND THEN, LOOKING AT ME AND WONDERING, THIS OLD GUY IN A RAG-BAG OUTFIT, IS THIS THE BEST THEY COULD COME UP WITH?  WELL, YEAH.  BECAUSE IN OUR WORLD OF LIMITS, WHATEVER WE HAVE IS REAL BECAUSE WE ARE WILLING TO SHARE IT. IN A ROYAL WORLD THAT’S NOT MUCH.  BUT HERE IT’S OK.