Feast of Christ the King

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

We have a strange King. Most famous kings in history have been known for their earthly power and wisdom. They conquered nations and built vast empires. They advanced science and technology. They were kind and generous with their subjects and ruthless with their enemies. They died in peace or heroically.

By human standards, Jesus wasn’t much of a king. The inscription over his head—INRI (in Latin, Iesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum)—was an indictment more than a proclamation.  He had little earthly power. Many people thought that he was a fool. He died with a handful of frightened followers. He urged his followers to love their enemies, and he forgave those who killed him. He was publicly and shamefully executed.

Yet today the Church celebrates Jesus as Lord, Christ and King of the Universe. St. Paul tells us in our second reading that Jesus is:

  • “The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;”
  • The one who “is before all things” and in whom “all things hold together;”
  • “The beginning, the firstborn from the dead;”
  • The “head of the body, the church;” and
  • The one in whom everything in heaven and earth has been reconciled through his sacrifice on the cross.

It is in Jesus that everyone and everything are brought together. As part of the communion of persons that is the Holy Trinity—the Son, with the Father and the Holy Spirit—Jesus is also the source our reconciliation and communion. In his person and in his life, death and resurrection he has brought together divinity and humanity, light and darkness, unity and diversity, male and female, Jew and gentile, the free and the enslaved, righteous and sinners. 

As we witnessed in our first reading, in the ancient world kings and their earthly subjects made a deal:  the king promised them his protection and leadership and the people promised him their support and loyalty. It was a covenant of mutual obligations. If either side failed to do their part, the deal was off. The king could become a tyrant or the people could overthrow him.

Jesus wasn’t and isn’t that kind of king. Even when we sin and fail to live according to the covenant of our baptism, Jesus doesn’t abandon us. Again and again, he offers us his love and gives us the opportunity to live in his grace. But there are no shortcuts. We must still place ourselves under his authority, be transformed by his mercy, live according to the gospel, and carry out his mission in the world. 

Are we ready to serve our King? +