2 Sam. 5:1-3; Col. 1L12-20; LK 23:35-43
At Hong Kong on the morning of 19th December 1941 a Company of the Winnipeg Grenadiers to which Company Sergeant-Major Osborn belonged became divided during an attack on Mount Butler, a hill rising steeply above sea level. A part of the Company led by Company Sergeant-Major Osborn captured the hill at the point of the bayonet and held it for three hours when, owing to the superior numbers of the enemy and to fire from an unprotected flank, the position became untenable. Company Sergeant-Major Osborn and a small group covered the withdrawal and when their turn came to fall back, Osborn single-handed engaged the enemy while the remainder successfully rejoined the Company. Company Sergeant-Major Osborn had to run the gauntlet of heavy rifle and machine gun fire. With no consideration for his own safety he assisted and directed stragglers to the new Company position exposing himself to heavy enemy fire to cover their retirement. Whenever danger threatened he was there to encourage his men.
During the afternoon the Company was cut off from the Battalion and completely surrounded by the enemy who were able to approach to within grenade throwing distance of the slight depression which the Company was holding. Several enemy grenades were thrown which Company Sergeant-Major Osborn picked up and threw back. The enemy threw a grenade which landed in a position where it was impossible to pick it up and return it in time. Shouting a warning to his comrades this gallant Warrant Officer threw himself on the grenade which exploded killing him instantly. His self-sacrifice undoubtedly saved the lives of many others.
My brothers and sisters this Sunday we celebrate the Feast a great king who sacrificed himself for saving humanity. The fest of Christ the King. This feast marks the closing of Year C of the Liturgical Calendar.
History shows that Kingship is associated with three things. Kings have power; kings have wealth; kings lorded over others and use force and killing to get their way. With Jesus, none of these is true.
For 30 years, Genghis Khan and his Mongolian horde swept through Asia, slaughtering over one-tenth of the people on Earth and conquering nearly one-quarter of the land. His was the most violent reign in all of human history.
When Toquchar, Genghis Khan's son-in-law was killed by an archer from Nishapur, Genghis Khan's troops attacked Nishapur and slaughtered every person there. By some estimates, 1,748,000 people were killed. In 1223, the Mongolian army was making its way through Russia and had just won the Battle of the Kalka River. The Russian army had surrendered, their towns had been captured, and the Mongolians decided to celebrate.
The generals and nobility of the Russian army were forced to lie down on the ground. Then a heavy wooden gate was thrown on top of them, chairs and tables were set on top of the gate, and the army sat down for a feast.
They held their victory celebration on top of the still-living bodies of their enemies, eating and drinking while Russian princes were crushed to death beneath their feet. Like him there were many rulers who used their power to crush the enemies.
But for Jesus, the king of kings, the idea of having power over others was different. There's that incident in the Gospel where James and John come to Jesus seeking the first place in his kingdom. They're thinking of a human kingdom; they want to be at his right hand and his left hand. Jesus is upset, and he not only rebukes them, but he calls all the disciples together and he says to them: "Look, among the Gentiles, those who are not part of God's chosen people, those that in power lorded over others -- lorded over others -- among you, it cannot be that way. The one who is to lead must be the servant, the slave of all." Jesus made it very clear at the last supper, when he got down and knelt in front of each disciple and washed his feet. He took the role of a slave, a servant. He said, "As I have done to you, you must do to others.
Kings had great wealth. Many emperors from Ancient India, China, Rome and Egypt were well known for their wealth. The fourteenth Century African Emperor Mansa Musa of Mali is said to be the richest emperor. Musa set off on a journey to Mecca for his Hajj pilgrimage. But the king didn't travel by himself. The voyage, which would span an estimated 4,000 miles, was travelled by Musa and a caravan that included tens of thousands of soldiers, slaves and heralds, draped in Persian silk and carrying golden staffs. Although records of the exact number of people who participated in the voyage are scarce, the elaborate convoy that accompanied Musa marched alongside camels and horses carrying hundreds of pounds of gold.
But Jesus never attached any importance for wealth. There's that incident in the Gospel where the young man comes to Jesus and says, "What must I do to gain everlasting life?" When Jesus says, "Well, keep the commandment," "I've done that from my youth; my early years" he replied.
Then Jesus says, "If you want to truly be perfect to follow me now, go sell everything you have. Give it to the poor then come and follow me. Jesus always wanted his disciples to put their trust in the providence of God.
Third thing: Kings use force. They go to war to get their ways. Jesus rejected violence. Look, even in the garden, at the risk of his life Jesus says, "Put away your sword; don't use violence. Those who live by the sword die by the sword." Violence brings violence -- always greater violence -- and so instead of the violence, Jesus heals the person whose ear has been severed.
Jesus' kingdom is "not of this world," for it contrasts with the kingdom of the world in every possible way. This is not a simple contrast between good and evil. The contrast is rather between two fundamentally different ways of doing life, two fundamentally different mindsets and belief systems, two fundamentally different loyalties.
We are called to be loyal soldiers of that King who conquered the world with a single weapon, love. So even after two thousand years Jesus stands as the king of the world dividing history into two parts before him and after him.
To be part of this Great King's army it requires forgiving the unforgiveable; it requires loving the unlovable; and it requires hoping in the midst of hopelessness.
May our King give us the grace to be his true soldiers in this world.