CHRIST THE KING (YEAR C)
2 SAM 5:1-3/ PS 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5/ COL 1:12-20/ LK 23:35-43
THEME: CHRIST OUR KING
The feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, with a call on humanity to submit once more to the authority of Christ. The feast was instituted in the aftermath of the Communist Revolution in Russia, which gave rise to the first clearly defined atheistic totalitarian government in history, and World War I, which had shattered the peace and progress of Europe. It was in response to the abandonment of Christian mores and man’s efforts to construct a secular paradise on earth. Pius XI observed that the pervasiveness evil in the world was due to mankind’s rejection of the lordship of Jesus Christ. He warned that so long as this remained the case, there was no prospect of a lasting peace on earth. The last time God was officially regarded as King by his people was about the year 1049 BC, before Israel chose Saul as king in place of God in the Old Testament.
Every king has a throne symbolizing his power and authority, from where he administers justice, conducts diplomatic relations, receives petitions and issues orders. The throne reminds the people of the king’s unique royal identity and supreme authority. As the eternal King of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ has a throne too, but of a different kind. His is a lowly throne where he lies down, crowned with thorns, in submission to his executioners. The Cross is Jesus’ throne on earth and its only decoration is the blood which he poured out to save his people. On the Cross was the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” This statement of his alleged crime was meant to be the last best insult by his enemies, but it turned out to be a most profound proclamation of the truth. In what Pope John Paul II calls the paradox of Christ’s kingship, the visible sign of utter defeat and shame turned out to be the sign of Christ’s definitive victory over death and a validation of his eternal kingship.
The kings of the earth slaughter animals of choice to entertain their guests, but Jesus gave his own body and blood as food and drink. When about to die, he kings of the world divide their estates amongst their relatives and cronies, but Jesus, having no estates to share, offered the Eucharist as a memorial of his own death. Then he gave away his own mother to one of his followers. The kings of the earth live in magnificent palaces – Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, The Lodge, The Kremlin, The White House, Aso Rock, etc., but King Jesus reigned from the top of two wooden planks on the Cross, which was meant for condemned criminals. He made it clear that: “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). At death, the kings of world get vested in their most regal attires for burial, but Jesus was stripped naked and had only a linen shroud for dressing. The kings of the world send their subjects to fight and die for them, but Jesus chose to die for his subjects, that they might have the fullness of life.
Furthermore, in the kingdoms of the world, efforts are made to exclude strangers and the rulers say to them: “Go back to where you came from.” But in the Kingdom of Christ, everything is done to welcome outsiders, and the King says to them: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). This is the distinctive and inimitable character of the kingdom of Christ. This kingdom is not of wealth and grandeur or of sirens and long motorcades, but rather a kingdom of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). It is a kingdom of fellowship with God, with one’s neighbour, and with oneself. Christ’s Kingdom is built on the Father’s unconditional love for each one of us. This love was revealed love on the Cross by Christ’s suffering and death for our salvation, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). The Kingdom of Christ is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb at which everyone gets the souvenir of divinization – sharing in the divine nature.
By sharing in our suffering, Jesus invites us to share in his kingship, if only we would unite our sufferings to his and if only we would place our crosses on the altar with his. In Christ Jesus, we are not only subjects of the King but co-rulers with the King. We all are members of the royal family of the everlasting Lord, called and equipped by our share in the cross to conquer evil and to extend the frontiers of mercy, justice, and peace. The Second Vatican Council presents the Lord Jesus as “the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the centre of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings” (Gaudium et Spes #45). Jesus Christ is our only path to the fullness of life and meaning. Only through him, with him, and in him can we attain the deepest longings of our hearts.
As Pope Pius IX noted, when humanity acknowledges the sovereignty of Christ both privately and publicly, “society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… That these blessings may be abundant and lasting in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be as widely as possible recognized and understood.” This is what today’s feast aims at achieving and we are invited to work and pray for that. And to achieve that, we must resist the intimidation of earthly power, the seduction of earthly riches, and the discouragement of the weight of our earthly crosses. And so, we pray for the grace to live our lives in ways that acknowledge Jesus Christ as the eternal King of the universe. Amen!
posted by: Mark