July 26, 2015
ORDINARY 17 (B)
They were going to come and carry Him off to make Him King. – John 6: 15
Louis the 14th, the King of France who said “I am the state,” Louis the 14th, who built Versailles, projected such an image of power that he was called the “Sun King.” To the people of his time, there was no one more powerful than Louis the 14th.
When he died, thousands of people came to his funeral service, filling the great cathedral & spilling out into the square beyond. When the Bishop of Paris mounted the pulpit to preach the eulogy for the great “Sun King,” he spoke only four words: “ONLY GOD IS GREAT!”
Jesus clearly rejected all earthly notions of kingship – opting instead for unconditional, absolute dependence upon the greatness of God. Some years ago, Sean Connery & Michael Caine starred in an adventure film entitled “The Man Who Would Be King.” Each played the part of deserters from the British Army in India. Their love for adventure took them on an arduous journey to a far-away mountain kingdom….
One of the two hoped to fulfill his lifetime ambition of becoming a king. All his life he had longed for the power & privilege & pleasures that come with being royalty. Consequently, through a combination of trickery & so-called “western know-how,” he does become king for a short time, & thoroughly enjoys his position. But it goes to his head, & rather than cut & run with the loot, as the other character wants to do, he decides it is his destiny to govern these primitive people. He orders one of the beautiful young maidens to become his wife, but she is so terrified of marrying a “god” as she believes him to be, she bites his hand at the altar. Then a strange thing happened – he started to bleed. This proved to the people that he was no god, so they turned on him & killed him.
Jesus not only refused to be king in any worldly sense, he could also bleed; & for that we are eternally grateful. His blood became the basis of our redemption & the basis upon which we continue to be fed in the Eucharist. Because Jesus refused to be king in the conventional sense, God exalted Him & thus becomes a model for us. Our Lord makes it clear in the very first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Not those who want to be king, but the poor in spirit who identify their life & their mission with God’s will.
There are middle-aged folks all over this country who are convinced they have “missed the boat” because they have not made it into some executive suite, & because they are not millionaires. There are even some millionaires who feel they have not made it because they are not billionaires. All too often, it is not until we are at the “end of our rope,” as the saying goes, that we even begin to explore the possibilities of God as the answer.
Being poor in spirit is not an arbitrary requirement but a simple fact of the spiritual life. Without it, we remain blind to the immensity of God’s love & the awesomeness of what has been done for us in the prophets, the Incarnation, & the saints. Without it, we will never recognize our own value or our humanity. Without it we cannot confront suffering & death or be a loving person who brings joy to the world instead of pain. Without it, we remain bewildered & unrejuvenated by the grace that God offers to us continuously. AMEN!