Homily delivered on the Feast of St Joseph for Gayndah community.

Year  C  2022

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Tacked on the cross above the head of Jesus was a notice telling passers-by the crime he had committed. In Latin (the language of the Romans), Hebrew (the language of the people) and Greek (a common language still). The notice read Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. When crosses and crucifixes became an object that could be used in churches and by individuals (frowned on in the early church following the Jewish practice of no images) the notice was abbreviated to the initial letters in Latin of the key words: INRI. Iesus Nazarensis Rex Iudaeorum.


The notice was an outright statement from the Roman authority, the governor, the representative of Caesar, Pontius Pilate. The Jewish authorities wanted the notice to state that it was only a claim, not the truth. Whatever Pilate was thinking (and he refused to change what he had said), he did speak the truth and his words have lived with us ever since.


Not that Jesus is only king of the Jews. He is the one appointed by the Father to govern all peoples as king. According to figures from the United Nations there are 195 countries in the world at present with the Holy See and the State of Palestine included as non-member observer states. The Lord Jesus Christ governs all these. Today’s solemnity bringing to a close the liturgical year is Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.


Giving Jesus the title King sits somewhat uncomfortably with his reaction to the people of his own day who from time, according the gospel accounts, wanted to make him king. An understandable desire as much of his teaching was about the coming of a kingdom – the prayer he taught the disciple declares “your kingdom come.” However, only in his conversation with Pilate, the governor who condemns him to death, does he admit that he is a king but unlike other kings. As king he does not subdue people by force. His rule is one that individuals have to accept freely and willingly.

He reminds his disciple friends that the rulers of this world use force. Those rulers lord it over people and make their authority felt. They have others at their beck and call. Those who are subjects of the kingdom Jesus established are not to act in that way (even though anyone with a knowledge of Church history realises that that command of the Lord has been ignored by popes, bishops, priests, religious and laity alike). Those who receive Jesus as king, exercise His authority through service.


Writing to the Colossians, St Paul places the Lord’s kingdom in perspective. Speaking of the Father, Paul says: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.


During today, read and read again what Paul says about Jesus on a cosmic level. As you read, take heart from who Jesus is and his choice of you as a disciple friend. Don’t be put off by our reading Luke’s account of the crucifixion. What Jesus went through is what sets us into a new life. Suffering can have meaning and growth. Death has been defeated. Jesus remembers us as he remembered the one crucified with him and who was the first person Jesus welcomed into paradise after he had surrendered his own spirit to the Father.