Headline: ALL HAIL THE KING OF KINGSPosted on: 2015-11-26
There are kings and there are kings! The kings of this world parade cute names, awesome power and intimidating credentials. The Bible however declares that Jesus has been given a name that is greater than any other name. "God exalted him and gave him the name which outshines all names, so that at the name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2: 9-11). The Universal Church, last Sunday, formally celebrated the Solemnity (eminently special day) of Christ, King of the Universe. It is the Sunday that closes the official Liturgical Christian year before the beginning of Advent which is the start of a "new spring" in the Christian calendar and life. Of course Jesus is King of every day and every minute of the life of true Christians. The Bible shows that human beings live on symbols and only the blind or the recalcitrant can deny that fact in human life even today. God asked Moses to lift up the brazen serpent as a symbol of salvation in the desert (Num 21: 4-9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of its lack of repentance. He surely was not weeping for its paved roads or greenery but for the people of Israel and their depraved ways (Lk. 19 41-44). That same symbolism is what Catholics powerfully express on Christ the King Sunday, processing in the streets with the Holy Eucharist, praying and singing about the kingship of Jesus Christ and the sanctification of the world.
The Kingship of Christ
By today's standards, the Kingship of Jesus seems absurd. Kings are expected to be powerful and strong, willing when necessary to enforce their power and command respect. The humble, lowly manifestations of Jesus' life completely fly in the face of such requirements. God chose a peasant woman to be his mother. He was born in a lowly manger and lived an itinerant life. He died a dishonorable death and had just a borrowed grave to lay in when he died. His disciples even got a tough lesson when they argued about who among them would be the greatest. He told them: .. "the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest" (Lk. 9: 48). When he was challenged on his way to Jerusalem, his disciples, James and John offered to "call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes" (Lk. 9:54), he rebuked the disciples. They obviously knew that he had the power and must have been disappointed that he did not use it. He washed the feet of his disciples and told them "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another's feet. I have just given you an example, that as I have done you also may do" (Jn. 13: 14). Standing before Pilate to be sentenced to death, Jesus formally declared: "Just as you say, I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" (Jn. 18:37). These few indications leading to an ignominious cross define the countercultural kingship of the King of kings who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The Kingdom of this world
Of course the kingdom of this world is totally different. The tragedies and terror of the present, the wars and struggles of our day and the fears and anxieties of our times are caused by the fierce competition between powers and civilizations, dominions and principalities all angling for influence, wealth and territory. Islamic State (ISIS), Al Quaeda, Boko Haram, or Al Shabbab are really not the only terrorist groups of our contemporary world. Long before them were the terrorism of slavery, mindless exploitation and capitalism, of totalitarianism and dictatorship, of institutionalized corruption in the highest places of governance, the judiciary and administration, of racial discrimination and domestic violence and many more. All provided the environment and nurtured the overall bloody and brutish manifestations of terror which we find today. In short we are punished more by our sins than for them,
What manner of men
But now as the curtains come down, it seems that time is ripe for the roll call. Now everyone must own up and stand up either for Jesus or for his adversaries. When Jesus stood before Pilate, the chief priests declared: "We have no King but Caesar" (Jn. 19:15). There, like at the foot of the cross, was hardly anyone to claim him as king. Christians must know that bringing about God's kingdom requires their commitment and is a game of numbers. They must by their works and actions claim Christ's kingship and dominion. Christ the King Sunday was a moment of grace for Christians to vocalize that fact. Jesus knows well the perils that put his kingdom at risk. That is why he declared to his disciples: "You will have trouble in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16: 33). Those who declare to belong to Jesus as a matter of conscience, must respond to the King-subject logic, which implies that there exists a kingdom and that the king has the right to make laws for his subjects to obey. Those who do so are the manner of men and women who can reign with the king and claim the world for him. "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn. 15:14). So said Jesus Christ, "the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth... to him be the glory and power forever and ever. Amen " (Rev. 1:5-6).
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