34th Sunday Ord - FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING : Jn 18:33-37

Christ – King and Centre of our Lives " - 22 Nov 2009

Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore

About four months ago, many of us read about the miracle boy, Andre Tang, who was discovered to have only half a heart when he was 22 months old in his mother’s womb. Doctors advised Andre’s parents to abort him because they said that Andre’s chances of survival was very slim, and even if he were to survive, he would only live for three days. The doctors told Andre’s mom that she was young and that she could still have another baby.

Andre’s mother said, “We were so heartbroken, but we wanted to give Andre at least a chance at life, even if it would cost us every thing we have. So, I told the doctor we want to give our baby a name . . . we want him to have an Identity card and let him have many friends.” Thus, Andre’s parents, and also being fervent Catholics refused to have him aborted and chose to trust in God’s providence instead of their doctors’ advice.

Instead of surviving three days after his birth, Andre lived for fifteen years. His family and friends described Andre as always charming, cheerful and immaculate. He was a peacemaker in the family who would solve problems instead of causing them. Andre’s mom said, “Every time he comes home from school, I could see that he was very tired. However, he would always be still smiling.”

Even as Andre was weakening and dying, he would try to comfort his mother. He said, “Mom, don’t be sad. If I go, I’ll be well-taken care of by God. Anyway, I’ll be around. I’ll be an angel. I will be caring for all of you. Don’t worry about the funeral expenses. God will answer our prayers. He will help us.”

Andre had the many school friends that his parents had wished for him. Three of them were particularly close to him; each school day, one of them would carry his school bag, another would take his water bottle, and a third would just accompany him. And if Andre had to cross a distance, his friends would piggyback him.

One day, when Andre had to walk four or five steps up a flight of stairs, he would stop and start to pant. Ahmed, one of his best friends would wait for him. And when Andre said that he might go off any time, Ahmed replied that a miracle might happen. To this Andre replied, “A miracle has already happened. I have already lived for so long.” Ahmed said that Andre had a unique laugh and would make others around him laugh; they would meet during recess time, crack jokes and talk about Andre’s life.

Andre Tang died on 12.7.2009

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this true story of Andre, his family and school friends in many ways capture for us the meaning of today’s celebration of the Feast of Christ the King.St Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises explains how we often have two basic options in life. We either choose the values of the Kingdom of Christ or choose the values of the kingdom of the Satan and his secular world.

Andre’s parents clearly chose the values of the Kingdom of Christ when they refused to abort their son and trusted in God’s providence. And when they were willing to give their precious son a chance to live even though it may cost them everything they had, and according to the doctors, Andre’s chances of survival were very slim. In the end, Andre’s family was blessed to have Andre for fifteen fulfilling and beautiful years where he brought so much peace, joy and love to the family and his friends.

When we use the word “king” it has different meanings. A lot depends on how it is used. If we say, “Tiger Woods is the king of Golfers” we mean he is the best golfer in the world or of all times. If we say, so-and-so is a “king in his home or office,” we usually mean that the person runs his home or office with an iron fist – that he is rigid and authoritative. If we say that so-and-so is the present king in a country, we refer to a political office.

But, when we say we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King today, we are referring to Jesus as the almighty King of our lives and the universe. Prophet Daniel in today’s First Reading says, “He has an eternal sovereignty which will never pass away,nor will his empire be destroyed.” This truth and reality was precisely how Andre and his family were able open themselves to God’s graces and transcend their pains and bring peace, joy and love to others.

Jesus as King is infinitely powerful. He is not just another earthly king. He is divine. He is the Son of God who has power to cure all kinds of illnesses and even raise the dead to life. Yet, Jesus as King does not rule through power, pride and popularity, but through humility, mercy and love. Thus, instead of wearing a golden and diamond studded crown, Jesus allows Himself to be persecuted and end up wearing a crown of thorns.

A Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom is not of this world and that He has come to bear witness to the Truth. While the secular powers of all kinds promote our self-importance, Jesus promotes the preferential love for the poor and needy. While we find ourselves tempted and lured by the glamour and glory of the world, Jesus points us in the opposite direction.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, as I conclude, let me sum up by saying that we all know that the challenges of Jesus are never easyto follow as Andre and his family have shown us. Yet, we also all know that ultimately, to bear witness to Christ’s Truth and to live and love as He has shown us is the only option that we have in life, if we want to live a fulfilling life, amidst the pains we have to face in life.

Andre and his parents and his school friends show us that if we dare to trust in God’s providence and die to our self for the sake of Christ our King, then God will see to it that all will be well. To swim upstream against the currents is never easy and certainly much more strenuous than to float effortlessly down stream.

However, if the stream of the multitude of people’s voices and secular ways are leading us away from the source of Christ’speace, joy and truth, then today’s Feast of Christ the King is precisely challenging us to be more like Andre and his family to choose Christ as our “king” at all times .

Fr Philip Heng, S.J.

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