Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 45 – Solemnity of Christ the King

Giving Jesus His Proper Place

Today’s feast marks the last Sunday of our liturgical year. It comes at the end to remind us where things are headed. Jesus Christ is King! This is true now, but it is also a truth that has not yet been fully realized. We live in this tension of the “now” and “not yet” of God’s kingdom. Our mission is to bridge this gap, to make the reign of Jesus that is not yet perfect a part of the now in which we live.

It is interesting that we celebrate Jesus today under the title of our “King.” In the Old Testament, we see that God never intended that his chosen people would have a king to rule over them. God himself was to be their king. Yet, when the Israelites settle in the promised land, they see that all the other nations have kings. Their kings lead them in battle and give them someone to rally around and to cheer for. Israel decides that they want a king too. In choosing an earthly king over God, the Israelites substitute a lesser in place of the greater.

We are not so different today. There are many ways in which we continue to substitute other things in the place that properly belongs to God. If we look at our passion for sports we can see where we love to assemble and jump up and down and scream and yell for our team. We love to rally around our teams and we idolized our sports heroes. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but we do have to realize that these desires will never be fulfilled by sporting events. They point us toward a more important reality.

This past week, over 23,000 young people gathered in Kansas City for the National Catholic Youth Conference. As we gathered in the Sprint Center it was a scene that would have been familiar to the building at the start of any major sporting event. However, something very different happened here. When the curtains parted for the team to run onto the court, instead of Michael Jordan running out, Jesus ran out to center court. Archbishop Naumann carried our Lord in the Eucharist to the altar and the crowd went crazy, better than Jordan ever got. As the lights came down and people fell to their knees, countless flashes started to go off to get a picture of the “superstar” at center court.

After a period of adoration and benediction, there was a huge procession down the middle of downtown Kansas City to Bartle hall. The scene was one that could have easily been confused for a World Series parade. People packed the street from side to side for an hour in procession. Yet, the victor at the head of this parade was not some winning sports team, but Christ the King. For a few days at NCYC, things were turned right-side up again and Jesus was in his proper place. We got to experience a little bit of the “not yet” that is possible even “now.” May this feast of Christ the King give us the courage to look hard at the places in our lives where we have substituted something else in place of the kingship of Jesus. Let’s give Jesus his proper place.

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