Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Solemnity of Christ the King
is today.

"Why did Christ show Himself to so few witnesses after He rose from the dead? Because He was a King, a King exalted upon God's 'Holy hill of Zion;' as the Psalm says which contains the text. Kings do not court the multitude, or show themselves as a spectacle at the will of others. They are the rulers of their people, and have their state as such, and are reverently waited on by their great men: and when they show themselves, they do so out of their condescension. They act by means of their servants, and must be sought by those who would gain favours from them.

Christ, in like manner, when exalted as the Only-begotten Son of God, did not mix with the Jewish people, as in the days of His humiliation. He rose from the grave in secret, and taught in secret for forty days, because 'the government was upon His shoulder.' He was no longer a servant washing His disciples' feet, and dependent on the wayward will of the multitude. He was the acknowledged Heir of all things. His throne was established by a Divine decree; and those who desired His salvation, were bound to seek His face. Yet not even by those who sought was He at once found. He did not permit the world to approach Him rashly, or curiously to gaze on Him. Those only did He call beside Him who had been His friends, who loved Him. Those only He bade 'ascend the hill of the Lord,' who had 'clean hands and a pure heart, who had not worshipped vanity nor sworn deceitfully.'These drew near, and "saw the Lord God of Israel," and so were fitted to bear the news of Him to the people at large. He remained "in His holy temple;" they from Him proclaimed the tidings of His resurrection, and of His mercy, His free pardon offered to all men, and the promises of grace and glory which His death had procured for all who believe.

Thus are we taught to serve our risen Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Let us pursue the subject thus opened upon us.—Christ's second sojourn on earth (after His resurrection) was in secret. The time had been when He 'preached openly in the synagogues,' and in the public ways; and openly wrought miracles such as man never did. Was there to be no end of His labours in our behalf? His death 'finished' them; afterwards He taught His followers only. Who shall complain of His withdrawing Himself at last from the world, when it was of His own spontaneous loving-kindness that He ever showed Himself at all?

Yet it must be borne in mind, that even before He entered into His glory, Christ spoke and acted as a King. It must not be supposed that, even in the days of His flesh, He could forget who He was, or 'behave Himself unseemly' by any weak submission to the will of the Jewish people. Even in the lowest acts of His self-abasement, still He showed His greatness. Consider His conduct when He washed St. Peter's feet, and see if it were not calculated (assuredly it was) to humble, to awe, and subdue the very person to whom He ministered. When He taught, warned, pitied, prayed for, His ignorant hearers, He never allowed them to relax their reverence or to overlook His condescension. Nay, He did not allow them to praise Him aloud, and publish His acts of grace; as if what is called popularity would be a dishonour to His holy name, and the applause of men would imply their right to censure. The world's praise is akin to contempt. Our Lord delights in the tribute of the secret heart. "- Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Parochial and Plain Sermons


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