Christ the King

There is an old Irish legend that goes back to the time when kings ruled Ireland. It seems that the reigning king had no children to succeed him on the throne. So, he had his messengers post signs in every town and village of his kingdom inviting young men to apply for an interview with the king. This way, the king hoped to be able to choose a successor before he died. Two qualities were stressed. The person must have a deep love for God and for his neighbour. The young man, around whom the legend centres, saw one of the signs. He, indeed, had a deep love for God and neighbour. He felt an inner voice telling him to apply for an interview. But the young man was so poor that he didn’t have decent clothes to wear to an interview. He also had no money to buy provisions for the long journey to the king’s castle. So, after praying over the matter, he decided to beg for the clothes and the provisions he needed. When everything was ready, he set out. After a month of travel, he arrived at the king’s castle as he caught sight of the castle, he also caught sight of a poor old beggar sitting by the side of the road. The beggar held out his hands and pleaded for help. I’m hungry and cold, he said in a weak voice. Could you give me something warm to wear and something nourishing to eat? The young man was moved by the sight of the beggar. He stripped off his warm outer clothes and exchanged them for the tattered old coat of the beggar. He also gave the beggar most of the provisions he had been carrying in his backpack for the return journey. Then, somewhat uncertainly, he walked into the castle in tattered clothes and without enough food for his return journey. When the young man arrived at the castle, guards met him at the gate. They took him to the visitors’ area. After a long wait, the young man was led in to see the king. He bowed low before the throne. When he straightened up, the young man could hardly believe his eyes. He said to the king, you were the beggar outside the castle. That’s right said the king. Why did you do this to me? asked the young man. ‘I had to find out’, said the king, ‘if you really did love God and neighbour’. This is a legend, but this is also a true story. This king really existed his name was Jesus. God was not happy loving us from a distance, he wanted to become one of us; and so, he became man.  He lived like us and worked like us. He gave us everything and when he gave us everything, he gave his life for us.  Shortly before his death, he was asked by the Roman Governor: ‘are you a king?’  He responded: ‘yes I am a king, but my kingdom is not of this world’.  He had no castles nor armies; he has no riches nor power.  His kingdom was a kingdom of kindness, justice, and peace where everyone could feel at home. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.  It is a great opportunity to say thank you to our king who has done so much for us. But it is also an opportunity to renew our commitment to be his messengers; he invites us to be his messengers and to spread his kingdom of kindness, peace, love, and justice all over the world.  In this covid world we are living in today, so many people out there are hungry and thirsty for our kindness, for our time, for a word of encouragement and hope, for a helping hand and there are so many good people out there who are stepping up to the challenge. Am I stepping up to the challenge? I’m not sure if I will ever get to heaven, but if I do, I will hear these beautiful words of Jesus ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters you did to me’.