Christ as our King
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today we celebrate the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year. The title of today’s Feast is an interesting one. The Gospels relate that when queried by Pontius Pilate, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, Jesus does not directly answer the question. Instead, he states that his kingdom does not belong to this world and that he was born to testify to the truth. Frustrated, Pilate sneers in reply, “What is truth?” Pilate then appeals to his own power over Jesus. Then he addresses the mob to see if they want to have their king crucified. They respond that they have no king but Caesar! (Jn 18, 19). Thus, we see a connection between truth and power.
In Jesus, worldly power and kingship are turned on its head. Jesus equates his kingship to service and love. Jesus is the “Servant King” who “lays down his life as a ransom for the many” (Mt 20:28). Echoing the ‘suffering servant’ of Isaiah 53, Jesus shows in his own actions what power and rule are. Jesus tells us that no one takes his life from him, but that he lays it down freely (Jn 10:18). In his own day and throughout history, Jesus’ ‘servant kingship’ has been and remains counter cultural.
Jesus encompasses and unites in himself the three-fold identity of Priest, Prophet and King. As Priest, he offers worship and sacrifice not to himself but to God, his heavenly Father. As Prophet, he, who is the Word made flesh, proclaims not his own message but the Word of the Father, the Word of Truth and Life. As King, he rules not with his own arbitrary will, but he obediently serves the will of the Father who sent him. By his incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus has joined us to himself and the Father in the Holy Spirit. He has elevated us to the dignity of “sonship” by his adoption of each one of us. Yet even with this great dignity, we are not satisfied.
Today, as in every age, we are tempted to overstep who we are and who we are called to be. We seek not to follow Jesus and model our lives after Him to obtain true happiness. Rather, we relentlessly try to fashion for ourselves an absolute reign of individual and personal power and self-glory. The world lures and tempts us to be priests who worship self and to sacrifice, not to the glory of God, but to vainglory. The world offers gifts not on the altar of the cross, but on the altar of sensual pleasure and satisfaction. The prophets of this age, proclaim not the word and truth of God that sets us free, but the “truth” of personal opinion and the “woke” consensus. This age seeks not the truth of God as manifested in nature and divine revelation but settles for the deceitful, delusional, and comfortable “truth” of relativism; a lie, which in the end, cannot save and does not free human beings, but enslaves them. As kings in their own right, the self-appointed monarchs seek not to serve God’s will but their own will in all things. The world is more interested in trying to convert God to its way of thinking rather than converting to God’s way of thinking. The world tells God what He needs to do for us, instead of asking the Lord what He wants us to do.
Contemporary society highly values choice, freedom, and power. We resent anything that we feel infringes upon our ability to choose and the world uses its power to pre-determine choices. The Feast of Christ the King is a reminder that we have real choices. We can live for Christ or for ourselves. We can follow Christ or set our own path. We can have Christ as our King, or we can crown ourselves as the rulers and masters of our lives. To live for Christ is to gain everything and to live in the freedom of the children of God. To live for ourselves and our pleasures is to lose everything and become the slave of the tyranny of pleasure and whim, sin and death. The choice is ours.
In pace Christi,