Feast of Christ the King
This weekend, in great joy and thanksgiving, the Church closes its year. As it looks back through the days and months of 2018, it gives thanks for salvation achieved in Christ the Lord. He is king, and justice and peace only occur when Jesus truly is acknowledged as Lord.
The Book of Daniel supplies the first reading. This book, as many others in the Old Testament, was written when God’s people were experiencing many trials. The book includes a certain literary exaggeration among its techniques, in order to impress upon readers the depth of the troubles being faced by God’s people at this time.
This technique also dramatizes God’s redemption and protection. God subdues every evil force. He is almighty.
In this reading, a certain representative of God appears. He is identified by His title, “Son of Man.” The Son of Man receives dominion, glory and kingship from God. Of course, in the New Testament, Jesus was called the “Son of Man.” The New Testament title referred back to the image in Daniel.
For its second reading, the feast’s liturgy looks to the Book of Revelation. Of all the New Testament books, none is as dramatic and indeed mysterious as Revelation.
Revelation is at times more aptly called the “Apocalypse.” It is of the apocalyptic style in biblical literature. “Revelation” could be applied to any book of Scripture.
The reading is straightforward and bold. There is no question as to its message, which simply is that Jesus, the holiest and the perfect, rose from the dead, rules the world and has vivified with eternal strength all who love God.
St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a bittersweet reading for this great, joyous feast. The scene is Pilate’s courtroom. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the Holy Land, called “Palestina” at the time of Jesus, goes immediately to the heart of the charge against Jesus.
Is Jesus a king? Does He rival the mighty emperor of Rome? Jesus replies, but in fact He and Pilate are talking about two distinct realities. Pilate is interested in the political and social stability of the Roman Empire. Jesus is speaking of a kingdom much more profound, that of human hearts.
Jesus affirms kingship. He is indeed the king. He is the king anointed by God to bring all people back to the Father in heaven.
The film, “The King’s Speech,” released in 2010, was very well-received. Millions of people saw it and learned about Britain’s King George VI, who died in 1952, the father of today’s Queen Elizabeth II.
The Second World War came upon Great Britain in 1939 and for six long years, the British people endured terrible hardships. German bombing reduced to ashes not just factories, but the homes of so many. It would have understandable if despondency had overtaken the people, but it did not, thanks in great measure to George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the present queen’s mother.
At the height of the conflict, when the worst seemed imminent, rumors circulated that the king and his family soon would abandon Britain and flee to the security of Canada. Amid all the anxiety and desperation, the queen was visiting survivors of a bombing raid. A voice in the crowd shouted at her, “Are you going to Canada? Are you sending your daughters to Canada?”
Instantly, the queen replied. “My daughters will not go without me. I will not go without the king, and the king will never, ever, ever leave you!” Come what may, even death, George VI and his wife had resolved never to forsake the people.
Christ is our king. He died for us. He will never leave us, especially when times are hard for us.
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