Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Solemnity of Christ the King 2013

This Sunday marks the end of our Church year with the Feast of Christ the King.  By church timelines, this feast day is very much born in the modern era.  In response to the growing nationalism and secularism of the early 20th century, Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas.  At the time the world was still recovering from the Great War (World War I), but as we all know, the turmoil that followed created the economic and social instability that would eventually bring on the Great Depression and World War II.  Revolutions in Russia, China, and Spain were sparking unrest worldwide, and calling into question the their models of governance and economics.  It is in this chaos that Pope Pius understood the need to refocus our attention on who it is that we must serve.

The Word for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
        2 Samuel 5:1-3
        Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
        Colossians 1-12-20
        Luke 23:35-43

While some feast days retain the same readings year after year, other more important feasts have different readings unique to each Lectionary cycle.  Whereas last year’s readings for this time continued with the apocryphal visions of the end times from Daniel and Revelation, this year with Luke gives us a more glorious vision of kingship as it should be, that is, a kingship dedicated to God.

In our first reading from 2 Samuel we hear of Israel’s anointing of David as their king.  As we read this particular passage in the context of the solemnity, our focus shouldn’t be so much on David as is it should be on the connection of Jesus to the House of David.  The prophecy has been that the deliverer, the messiah, would come from the house of David.  This connection then makes Jesus a legitimate heir to the throne and brings God’s promise full circle.

That throne indeed sounds glorious as Paul explains this to the Colossians in our second reading.  The people of that early church struggled with the idea of “who was in charge.”  An issue we face regularly in our human experience throughout history.  Here Paul refocuses our attention to the fact that it is Jesus to whom we owe our allegiance… it is Jesus who is our one and only king.

As we next turn to our Gospel from Luke, he gives witness to Jesus on the cross.  It is in that moment we are reminded this Heavenly throne came at a cost.  It was through his death and resurrection that God gave Jesus dominion over the earth (and indeed the Universe).

It is here where we must also remind ourselves that the whole Israelite experiment with monarchy was in fact not what God wanted (as seen in 1 Samuel 8:6-18), and was in the end a colossal failure.  Even though it was God who chose David to be King, and by all accounts was better than most, it was still an appeasement on God's part.  So it begs the question… why use the image of a kingdom?  Why portray Jesus as a King?  Simply answered, it speaks to the people’s idea of leadership and society while it also harkens back to the idea of God as king… a reminder that no matter who is in charge, God (in the person of Christ) is still the ruler over all.


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