This homily was delivered on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Sculpture of the Homeless Christ (Regis School of Theology, Toronto)
Sculpture of the Homeless Christ (Regis School of Theology, Toronto)

Back in 2004, I visited the Jesuit school for the disabled in Cambodia.  From the moment I stepped out of the airport in Phnom Penh, I noticed that every major road and every other street corner displayed the picture of one man.  My companions informed me that a week before, Cambodia had just crowned a new king, Sihamoni, to succeed his father.  To celebrate the occasion and to show their acceptance of the new king, all of Cambodia put up his pictures everywhere, from medium-sized photographs to gigantic billboards.  As a result, no tourist—and certainly no Cambodian—had any excuse to claim that he does not recognize the new king.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, I can’t help but compare the way the Cambodians pulled all the stops in giving recognition to their new king, and the way we Christians treat our alleged king.  There are some differences, to say the least.

If you look around the city, except for the crosses atop churches, you will hardly find any picture or symbols of our Lord—certainly not in gigantic billboards.  Driving down EDSA, you will see all sorts of giant colorful images—all sorts of models selling all sorts of products.  What about the face of Christ the King?  Nowhere to be found.

So much for Christ the King.

In the award-winning documentary “Super Size Me,” the filmmaker goes on a one-month McDonalds binge and monitors its effects on his health.  In one scene, he shows pictures of famous people to several American kids.  They clap and cheer when they see Ronald McDonald, but they don’t recognize George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other American heroes.  Then they’re shown one last photo, but the kids simply shrug their shoulders.  The narrator turns around to show the photograph to the camera, and believe it or not, it’s the picture of Jesus Christ.

So much for Christ the King.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check out the Internet, the place to go to ifyou want to discover the common concerns of the world and especially its secret desires.  So I went to, typed out the words “king of the world” and hit Search.  Guess what I found?

I found dozens of sites about boxing champion Muhammed Ali—it turned out there’s a 1998 biography on him called King of the World:  Muhammed Ali and the Rise of an American Hero.   I also found numerous articles on Elvis Presley.  There were write-ups about reggae musician Bob Marley, a professional wrestler called Dominator, songs by bands with names like Disco Biscuits, and of course Leonardo di Caprio who, as we know, shouted “I’m the King of the World” atop the Titanic.

I had to go from site to site, going from one “king of the world” to another, before I finally stumbled over something that made any mention of Jesus Christ.  How telling.  And how sad that in the Internet, just as in the physical world, we have so much more space reserved for all sorts of other “kings of the world.”

So much for Christ the King.

So if you think about it, judging from both physical space and virtual space, we have hardly reserved any room for Christ. He has become virtually homeless because we have driven him out of our public spaces, whether physical or virtual.  If you monitor the national and global stages, you will almost swear that Christ is one king who isn’t governing the events that transpire in the world.  For a king, he hardly seems to have any dominion over the world and what happens in it.

So much for Christ the King.

Now, what will we find if we examine our own personal lives?  What will we see if we look into our inner, private spaces?  Do you think we will discern Christ’s kingship there?  Even in our personal lives, Christ seems to be more homeless than king.

So much for Christ the King.

We may call ourselves Christian.  Our words may profess that Christ is king, and we may pay lip service to him.  But neither our names nor our words will show whether or not Christ is really king.  If we want to know if Christ is truly king, we should examine our decisions and actions because these are what shape our lives and those of others.  It is really our decisions and actions that reveal whether he is truly a king whom we allow to shape our lives.  How many of our decisions do we allow him to govern, basing them on what he wants, and not just on what we ourselves want?  How many of our actions show that we obey the will of the king, not just our own will or whims?

At the door of the Regis School of Theology in Toronto, there is a sculpture of a homeless man huddled under a blanket. You don’t know who the man is because his face is covered, but if you come close enough, you will see the nail wounds on his feet. It is the Lord, our homeless King…

So here are some questions for you on this feast of Christ the King:  “Is Christ truly your king?  How much space and how much time do you reserve for him?  How big is the place that Christ occupies in your life?   How much time, apart from the obligatory one hour every Sunday–if at all–do we devote to him?  If we performed a similar Google search in our life and among our concerns, what would we find?  How many other kings of our world would we have to go through before finally finding Christ?”


Christ the King is not on billboards, not on internet websites. He is in the hearts and minds of those who know, love, and follow him.

Thank you for sharing your quest and this insightful reflection. The question you pose on this last Sunday of the liturgical year is in perfect juxtaposition to upcoming Advent and the usual (mostly self-imposed) holiday distractions and stressors (actual and virtual). When I search within my heart and I examine my external life is Christ truly my king? I am challenged and inspired to more consciously strive to live more like it were truly so.

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