The Glory of Heaven – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily November 24, 2019

“This Sunday on the final Sunday of the Church year we celebrate this beautiful feast of Christ the King recognizing the fullness of the Kingdom of God that will exist in Heaven.  It is the full glory of Christ who is King of the universe, but in the midst of that we are invited to reflect upon the beginnings of that kingdom that it was not in power and glory and majesty, but rather in simplicity, humility, in suffering and in pain for the king that is presented to us today is the king whose throne is a cross, whose crown is not of gold, but of thorns whose scepter are nails whose covering is with the lashings of the scourging.  It’s not a pretty sight, but it is through that mystery of God’s infinite love for Christ Jesus that the kingdom of God is truly established that the Kingdom of God is truly established that the Kingdom of God comes about that we know reconciliation and the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal salvation. How important it is for us to realize that the mystery of our redemption is one that did not begin in glory, but yet will end in the glory of Heaven.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened about 400 years ago off the northern shore of Ireland.  There was a sunken ship and when the divers and the salvagers when down and searched, one of the things they found, one that particularly touched them and impressed them was a man’s wedding ring and on that ring was a little depiction inscribed and the depiction was of a hand offering a heart and the wording said, ‘I have nothing else to give you.’  I have nothing else to give you. It seems to me that that inscription may be even better than Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews should have been the inscription placed on the cross of Jesus over his head as he died for the salvation of each and every one of us. I have nothing else to give you. I’ve given you everything that I am. I have given you my life, my love, I have given you the promise of eternal life.  I have nothing else to offer you except that gift of myself.

After the death of president Lincoln they were taking the body from Washington D.C. to Springfield, IL and they stopped at several places along the way and one of those places was Cleveland, OH and in Cleveland, there was a great group of people as everywhere who viewed the body and paid their respects and mourned for that dead president and there was one African American woman who had her little son there with her and when they got up to the casket she lifted up her son and said, ‘Look at that man, Honey.  He died for you.’ A very appropriate statement. Yes, Abraham Lincoln did die in order to free slaves to bring about freedom to bring about a more just and loving society, but Jesus died as well for even a greater cause for our eternal salvation. Every time we look at a crucifix we should be reminded of those words, ‘Look at that man. He died for you.’ Yes, for you and for me. That is the extreme of God’s love for us and that is the desire that God has that we share within his Kingdom of right relationship of love and caring within the forgiveness of sins and that whole new life of grace that is initially shared with us in baptism, but in which we are called to grow throughout our life.  Christ the King did not come to conquer nations. He didn’t come with power and glory to conquer people. Christ the King comes to us personally and individual. It is to conquer hearts. It is to conquer each one of us in mind and spirit. That is the reason that Jesus came. That is the way in which the Kingdom of God is established. It’s by us opening our own minds more fully our own hearts more completely to be filled with that truth and love of Christ Jesus to truly allow Christ to be King of our lives and he comes not as so many kings did to enslave, but rather to free us to truly bring us us freedom. It’s interesting to me that so often in our culture today Christianity and the teachings of Jesus are seen as repressive and constrictive when actually they are very liberating because they are there to liberate people from selfishness and sin in order to truly enter into relationships of self-giving love that alone bring true and lasting happiness, but be that as it may, our culture may say what it wants, but we know that Christ comes for our freedom.  He comes to deliver us from any slavery to that which is evil to bring about a newness of live within each and everyone of us and like the good thief mentioned in the Gospel today we all open ourselves to that presence of Christ and we pray as the good thief did, ‘Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’ Be with me each day.

I’d like to conclude with a short prayer this evening, a prayer which reminds us that Christ the King truly is one who must capture our hearts and we must respond in love and in faith.

‘Lord Jesus, it is not enough for us to look at you carrying your cross and proclaim with our lips that you are our king.
It’s not enough for us to bow our heads and call you Lord of Lords.
It is not enough for us to praise you with beautiful songs or words on this feast day.
No, we must welcome you ever more fully into our lives.
We must allow the truth of your Word to enlighten our minds and allow your love to enflame our hearts with zeal for your Kingdom.
We must take up our own cross daily and give our lives in loving service.
Then freed and transformed by your redeeming power when that day comes we too will hear those words of blessed assurance, ‘Amen I say to you this day you will be with me in Paradise.
Amen.’”