Solemnity of Christ the King. November 22nd 2015.
Dn 7:13-14; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37
What type of king is this?
A young graduate in his early twenties walked into a market in the Northern Nigeria city of Kano this last week. His mission? To get his broken cellphone fixed. He had hardly entered the market when he heard a loud explosion and lost consciousness. He woke up some hours later to find himself in hospital with his legs amputated. He is however grateful that he is alive because he is one of the few who survived the bomb detonated by the dreaded Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, in a crowded market at the height of business activities.
Celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King and having this young man’s story in my mind leaves me asking, “What sort of King is Jesus Christ? Is He really the sovereign King that we hail Him to be?” Many of must may have found ourselves asking such questions when chaos seems to reign in our personal lives, families, Church and our world.
The first answer to our question comes from the Prophet Daniel’s vision of “one like a Son of man” who comes to the “Ancient One,” and “the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship” such that “all peoples, nations and languages serve Him.” The answer is that the kingship of this Son of man, the kingship of Jesus Christ, who called Himself the Son of man, comes from God and not from man. Jesus Christ is the eternally begotten King who himself attested, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” Jesus Christ is king in His eternal being whether we realize it or not, whether we see visible manifestations of His kingship in this world or not. Nothing can diminish His glory or add to it or take it from Him because it is from the Father and not from creatures, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, and His kingship shall not be destroyed.”
Our second answer comes from the Book of Revelation and it reminds us that Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness,” did not come to prove Himself to us as King but He came to bear witness to the Father’s love, to bring to us that love of the Father that is stronger than the sins that wound us in our persons and separate us from each other. This love that He brings to us is so effective that, in loving us, “He has freed us from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.” He has not come to prove His kingship to us but to bring us into His own kingdom so that we too can bear witness to this love of the Father that triumphs over all evils.
In today’s Gospel, Pilate seems to ask Jesus a similar question, “What kind of king (of the Jews) are you when the learned leaders of your people, those who should know better, hand you over to me?” Jesus Christ, beaten, deserted, and bound with chains before him, does not look anything like the emperor Caesar in Rome that Pilate is used to. Jesus has to teach him both facts about His Kinship: He is indeed a king whose kingship does not come from men and He has not come to this world to prove Himself, “If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” He has come to bear testimony to the truth of the Father’s love and to lead us to full communion with the Father along the challenging path of truth, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
We cannot add to His glorious Kingship and we cannot take it from Him. We can only accept His invitation and enter into His own Kingdom on His own terms. We will either willingly submit to His kingship now that we see Him with eyes faith or we will have to submit to Him by force when He returns in glory and “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we live in a world that is often devoid of visible signs of the Kingship of Christ, leaving us to wonder what sort of king He is, today’s Solemnity of Christ the King must impress in us those two unforgettable facts of Christ’s Kingship. He is always king whether we all accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior or not because His kingship comes eternally from the Father. Nothing can add to it or take this kingship from Him. Secondly, He does not come to prove His kingship to us but to bring us into His own kingdom and make us faithful witnesses to the power of divine love.
How are we to bear witness to this divine love? First, we submit every aspect of our lives to the dominion of Christ. We must live our lives as people who have been bought with the blood of Jesus. We do not belong to ourselves anymore but to Him. His kingship must touch and affect every aspect of our individual and social lives.
Secondly, we too begin to gather souls to the Father with Christ. In Jesus’ words, “He who does not gather with me scatters.” Jesus Christ shed His blood to gather us into His Father’s kingdom. How then can we be indifferent to the spiritual state of others? How can we exclude others from our lives and our faith when He shed His blood to include all into His kingdom? Our own lives and examples should move others to repentance and to journey to the home that Christ has won for us with His Father.
Thirdly, we face evil in ourselves and in the world with utmost confidence in Christ the King who has also made us witnesses of His Father’s all-conquering love. Jesus Christ, the Holy One, experienced in His being the evil that cost Him His blood on the Cross. In Him divine love triumphed over evil and gained for the Father “a kingdom of priests.” We too will experience evil in ourselves in our world but our boldness and hope in the face of evil is a mark of our faithfulness to our vocation as witnesses to divine love.
Fourthly, we attend every Eucharist with profound thanksgiving realizing that the King has shed His blood to cleanse our hearts and to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion. We realize that the blood of Christ that washes our hearts in every Mass is the blood that the king shed even when He did not have to prove Himself as King.
As this blood is poured over us in today’s Eucharist, we recall that that all who are redeemed by Christ were redeemed by His blood shed on Calvary and that He freely chose to receive this blood through the free consent of Mary, the Queen Mother. Even in her dark moments, Mary never forgot the message that she heard from the Angel Gabriel, “His Kingdom shall have no end.” Let us humbly beg Mother Mary to impress on us deep gratitude and appreciation for the price that Christ has paid for us and to help us bear witness to this love too. May she help us to remember that we cannot add or take away from His kingship and He does not come to prove His kingship to us; He has come to bring us into His own endless glory. This is the type of king that He is.
Glory to Jesus the King!!! Honor to Mary the Queen!!!