A KING LIKE NO OTHER!
Today, we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ as the Universal King – the King of kings and Lord of Lords! This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, who called on humanity to submit once more to the authority of Christ. The pope observed that the multiple evils in the world were due to mankind’s rejection of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and 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 (over 3000 years ago), before Israel chose Saul as their king in place of God (1 Sam. 8:6). The Lord had warned them that the king would live in luxury and their expense but they would not listen. Today, as in those days, earthly rulers still live in luxury at the expense of the people.
Every king has a throne which symbolizes his power and authority! From there,he administers justice, conducts diplomatic relations, receives petitions, and issues orders. The throne reminds the people that the king is not just another citizen; he is the supreme authority. The throne is the symbol of the king’s unique royal identity. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the eternal King of the universe, has a throne too but of a different kind. Jesus’ throne is a lowly one 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 of the King who gave up his life for his people. On the cross, the inscription over his head was: “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 (the cross) turned out to be the sign of Christ’s definitive victory over death and a cementation of his eternal kingship
The kings of the earth slaughter animals of choice to entertain their guests, but Jesus gives his own body and blood as food and drink. When the monarchs of the world are about to die, they divide their estates amongst their relatives and cronies; but this King, with no estates to share, offers his people the Eucharist as a memorial of his own brutal execution. He then gives 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 this one reigns from the top of two wooden planks on a cross that was meant for condemned criminals. As he said: “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). At death, the rulers of the world get vested in their most regal attires for burial; but this one was stripped down to his loins and had only a linen shroud for dressing. The emperors of the world send their subjects to fight and die for them; but this one chooses 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 Christ the King, whom we celebrate today. Jesus’ kingdom is not that of wealth and grandeur; it is not a kingdom 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 close communion with God, with one’s neighbour, and with oneself. Christ’s Kingdom is built on the indomitable power of God’s unconditional love for each one of us. Jesus reveals that love on the cross by suffering and dying 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 we all get the gift of divinization – total transformation into God.
By sharing in our suffering, Jesus invites us to share in his kingship, if only we would unite our sufferings to his; 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.
Today, as we renew our gratitude and confidence in Christ our King whose throne is the cross, may we never to be intimidated by earthly power, seduced by earthly riches, or be discouraged by the weight of our crosses. And so we pray: Lord, do not let evil defeat us today, but may we, armed with your goodness, defeat evil ourselves – Christ, king of glory, be our light and our joy! Amen!
Readings: Second Samuel 5:1-3; Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43