Reverend Father Leonito Distor, our dear parish priest; concelebrating priests, assisting deacons, men and women in consecrated life; my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ:
We gather this evening to honor Jesus Christ as King of the Universe, King of heaven and earth, king of our hearts, king of our lives. Our readings today portray three dimensions of the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ: solidarity, life-giving, and mercy.
One aspect of kingship is solidarity. By his words and actions, he demonstrates fraternal communion with his subjects, among his people. In today’s First Reading, from the Second Book of Samuel, we hear the tribes of Israel asserting that David, their newly anointed king, is one of them. Indeed, a true king is not a grandiose individual who is separate from the people. Rather, he is always one with the people. He is not locked up in a palace, living in distance, privilege, and comfort. Instead, he immerses himself in the lives of his people, celebrating with them in times of joy, and accompanying them in experiences of hardships. Christ our King says, “Whatever you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me” (Mt 25:45).
And so, my brothers and sisters, let us also be agents of solidarity, like Jesus our King. Let solidarity overcome our political and economic divisions. Let there be no solo Christian among us, for we are always in communion. Let no one think that they are struggling with difficulties by themselves or striving for Christian perfection merely by their own faculties. In our families and communities, and especially here in our parish, let us reach out our hands and open our hearts to welcome and accompany those persons and groups who feel alone, abandoned, or alienated.
Another aspect of kingship is life-giving. In ancient times, kings were considered to be the “father” of the realm, and his royal subjects become his children. As life-giver, he patronizes livelihood, promotes liveliness, and encourages vitality in the kingdom.
In today’s Second Reading, Saint Paul recounts the mystery of the Son of God as the “first born of all creation.” This means that Christ is the principle of life that animates the entire created order. When we are feeling hopeless and depressed, his salvation vivifies us. When we are filled with grief or anxiety, his love encourages us. When we feel worn-out or weary, his power enlivens us. In his presence, we feel alive, at home, and at peace.
And so, my brothers and sisters, let us also bring life to one another, like Christ our King. Let us help and encourage one another. Let us be signs of hope for one another. Let us bear Christ to one another, especially those among us who are forlorn, discouraged, and distressed.
And a third aspect of kingship is mercy. In many kingdoms of this world, their rulers ensure that their subjects fear and submit to him. Jesus sternly warns us that it should not be so among those who follow him (cf. Mk 10:43). Indeed, in kingdoms where justice and peace reign, the kings and leaders are the main promoter of compassion and benevolence in the realm. He is the principal benefactor who supports most of the charitable activities in the realm, caring for the poor and the marginalized in the kingdom.
In the Gospel today, Luke narrates how the repentant thief, while hanging on the cross beside Jesus, recognized the royal identity of our Lord. By worldly standards, Jesus appeared unkingly. He was naked, mangled, insulted, weak, and dying. And yet, the repentant thief can see a royal nobility that lies behind the poverty and humility of the Lord. He saw righteousness and justice, mercy and love. Jesus Christ is king not only because he is wise, powerful, and strong, but more so because he is faithful to God and compassionate to others. On the cross, his kingship is shown in how he prayed for his tormentors (23:34), how he offered paradise to a repentant sinner (Lk 23:42), how he breathed his spirit to his family and friends (Jn 19:25-30), how surrendered his spirit to his Father (Lk 23:46) who seems to have abandoned him (Mk 15:34).
And so, brothers and sisters, like Christ our King, let us also demonstrate mercy towards each other. Let our acts of allegiance to Christ flow into acts of charity for one another, especially those who are needy and underprivileged among us.
Today, we also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Remedies. Mary is our mother and queen because she is the mother of Jesus Christ our King. As queen and mother, she fosters our communion, lovingly makes us feel her motherhood, and extends upon us her charity. Let us seek her maternal help so that we may become agents of unity, bearers of life, and missionaries of compassion for one another.
Like our queen Mama Mary, let reconciliation and solidarity win over our divisions. Let no one think that they are struggling with difficulties by themselves or striving for Christian perfection merely by their own faculties.
Let us also bring life to one another, like Mary our queen and mother. Let us encourage one another. Let us be signs of hope for one another. Let us bear Christ to one another, especially those among us who are forlorn, discouraged, and distressed.
Like Mary, let us also help one another. Let our acts of devotion to Our Lady flow into acts of charity for one another, especially those who are needy and underprivileged among us.
My beloved brothers and sisters: Jesus is our King. Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! As king, he fosters solidarity, gives us life, and extends upon us his mercy. Let us seek his grace so that we too may become agents of solidarity, bearers of life, and missionaries of mercy for each other. O Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, and king of our hearts, have mercy on us. Amen. (Photo by Genieve Genuino/RCAM-AOC)