Our first reading makes more sense if you know some of the background: You all know there were twelve tribes of Israel – but for a time the country of Israel actually used to be two separate kingdoms. Israel was in the north – made of 11 tribes, but the tribe of Judah had split off and became a separate country. David first became king of Judah or Judea for 6.5 years – and that’s when today’s story in the First Reading comes in. The people of Israel just lost their king Saul, and they came to David saying – look, we are the same as you – we’re all children of Abraham – please, come be OUR king too! So – David became the king that re-united the two kingdoms into one country of Israel. The next 33 years were the Glory days of Israel, and ever since that time, they always looked forward to the day when a new king would come and re-build Israel back to its former glory.
Now – David was a good King… but that was not how things normally turned out. Any idea what it is like to live under the rule of a King? Sometimes, it might get too romanticized, because living under a king could sometimes be the worst thing that could happen to you. Just think of movies like Braveheart. The King has the final say on EVERYTHING. He holds your life in his hand. If the King comes to your town and wants to stay at your house, you will just have to find another place to live for the night/week. If the King wants to send your son off to war, you might have 1 minute to say your good-byes. If the King thinks your daughter or wife is beautiful and wants her to come live in the castle, kiss her goodbye. The King tells you what crops you’re allowed to grow, where you’re allowed to live, and how much taxes you owe. If the King wants ANYthing that belongs to you, you will give it up or die trying to keep it. When the King makes the rules, we are not free to live our own lives.
No man should have that kind of power over us.
The trouble with an earthly King is that He only has one person’s interest at heart… his own. Anybody under his rule is merely a pawn to help him get what he wants.
No Man should have that kind of power over us.
Even if we don’t live under the rule of a king, we still live in danger of being ruled by someone who doesn’t have our best interest at heart – our SELVES – our Egos. We kid ourselves into believing that what we want IS the best thing… and everybody and everything is merely a pawn to help ME get what I want. It is good to be King!... or at least we think… until we ruin our lives through using people and things until all joy is driven away.
All of us sooner or later come to realize that by letting my ego be my king is the wrong path... If we allow our desires to set the rules for our life, we end up in misery. No man should have that kind of power over us….not even our selves.
So – we have a choice to make: We can choose an earthly King which inevitably leads to abuse of power and we end up in a kind of slavery to His will. OR - We can choose our EGO as our king and end up as a slave to our vices and addictions.
On the other hand, we have a choice of another King who is not just a Man… He is God. Christ the King. Instead of having the final say on everything, he gives us the choice. He never forces his will upon us! He shows us the best path...in fact he already did that in How he lived his life and in showing us the path to the cross… and he gave us his supreme command to love one another... but the choice is still ours.
Let’s look at two examples which reveal the extremes. One man, we’ll call him Gestas, who thinks that the world is his for the taking… he has few friends, because he just uses them for his will. He makes his own rules...and he says “I hate anybody who tells me what I can and can't do”... I’ve met this man… and he lives his life perpetually mad at the world...why? …Because he doesn’t get his way. He is the King who makes all the rules… but it ain’t working too well for him. As he hung upon the cross, he only saw Jesus as a means to getting off the cross. He didn’t see the need for repentance.
The other extreme is the person who we’ll call Dismas. He may have lived the same life as Gestas up to this moment, living just for himself, but as HE hung upon the cross, he saw in Jesus the path to freedom. Freedom from vices and sin. Freedom from guilt and shame. He recognized that Jesus was different as a King because HE HAS OUR BEST INTEREST AT HEART. So he begged Jesus, please, be MY king too! He is often referred to as the Thief who Stole heaven – gaining salvation directly from Jesus at the last moment of his life.
You and I don’t have to wait to be hanging on a cross to make that decision though…
We can choose today... In fact...we HAVE to choose. We all have a king, because we all let somebody set the rules for how we live. Who will be your king?
One last thing – when we built our log home – there’s something about it that gives a good example for today’s homily. You have your vertical walls with a beam going across, then there is the roof angling up like this (show with hands). Right in the middle is a post that goes up to the peak of the roof – it is there to keep the roof from sagging and pushing the walls out. I bring it up, because that post is called a King Post. Without that post at the center of your house, the house will collapse.
Same goes for our lives– if we don’t have Christ as our Kingpost – our lives cannot stand. Ask Christ to be your King – put Christ at the center of your marriage, at the center of your career choices, at the center of every decision you make and every friendship. Only with a King Post will anything be able to stand.
Only one King, who is NOT a MAN, has our best interest at heart. Approach Jesus like the thief on the cross and beg him, “Jesus, please be MY king too!”