Solemnity of Christ the King
November 21, Sunday, 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Readings: Daniel 7:13-14, Revelations 1:5-8 & John 18:33-37
On every cross, we read the inscription: INRI - Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ieudeorum – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. It evokes in us an undoubtful assumption that Jesus is the King... and so today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King – a King with a difference. It proclaims the Kingly nature of Jesus. He did not lead His life like the earthly kings. His Kingship is that of truth, justice and loving service. Indeed, we have become partakers of this from our Baptism. St. Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, proposes a Contemplation of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It is to contemplate Jesus – the Eternal King, who places His will to conquer the whole world and to enter into the glory of His Father. It is by following and labouring with Him in pain; we will enter in His glory.
In the Encyclical letter "Quas Primas," Pope Pius XI explains the double foundation of Christ's dominion over all things. It belongs to Him as the God-man and as Redeemer. St. Cyril of Alexandria: "The Kingship of Christ is Spiritual. He has authority over the creation. This authority, He did not take upon Himself by force but by His authority and nature."
To enter into the celebration of today's feast, two points need to be clarified. The first concerns the meaning of "kingship" in this context. In modern Western culture, Kings and Queens do not exercise much power; in the Bible, however, their power is absolute. What we are celebrating in today's feast, then, is the power of Jesus – who never used his power to his advantage. Secondly, this power, real and effective, is very different from the power as the world understands it. We must not, therefore, presume that we know what we are celebrating. The feast is instead an occasion to discover (or re-discover) the power of Jesus, how it works and what its effects are so that we can celebrate it.
Jesus' kingdom, to quote the Gospel of John, is 'not of this world.' It is the kingdom of God, where peace and mercy reign, not an earthly kingdom that can be fought over in war and violence.
Jesus has come to bring good news to the poor and to seek out and save the lost. St Cyril of Alexandria wrote: 'How wise the reasoning and how excellent the thoughts of the penitent thief! He became the confessor of the Saviour's glory and the accuser of the pride of those who crucified him. Let us look at his most beautiful confession of faith. He says: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." You see him crucified and call him a king.'
'The true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross (CCC 440).' The idea of Christ being a king in this world can only have meaning for me if the whole concept of "kingship" takes on a new meaning.
Thus today, we are called for authentic discipleship where there is unconditional love, radical inclusiveness – expansive vision, open commensality (common table), unconditional forgiveness (healing), justice through adult empowerment of the masses, being Human in a new way.
Let us then acclaim Jesus as our King and Master of our lives. May we say like
the good thief, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”