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Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

This Sunday we close our Liturgical Year with the Solemnity of Christ the King.  I can think of no better time than now, especially after such a divisive election season, for us to remember that it is only in Jesus Christ to whom we owe our allegiance.  This celebration was created in response to the growing nationalism and secularism of the early 20th century.  It was Pope Pius XI who instituted this feast in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas.  At the time the world was still recovering from the first World War while revolutions in Russia, China, and Spain were sparking continued unrest.  All over the world citizens were calling into question the their models of governance and economics.  It would seem today the world is in similar turmoil, calling us once again to recognize that above all else, we serve Christ.


2 Samuel 5:1-3
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Colossians 1-12-20
Luke 23:35-43

Our first reading from 2 Samuel where we hear of Israel’s anointing of David as their king.  As we read this particular passage in the context of Christ the King, 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.  This emphasis on the “House” of David is mirrored in our Psalm as we sing “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

That vision of kingship continues with our second reading as Paul explains to the Colossians an understanding of sacred authority.  The people of that early church struggled with the idea of “who was in charge.”  It’s an issue we face regularly in our human experience.  Rather than claim himself, or any of the Apostles as leaders of the Church, Paul refocuses our attention to the fact that it is Jesus to whom we owe our allegiance… it is Jesus whom we follow as our one and only king.

We turn then to our  Gospel which will be our final visit from Luke for some time.  In this Sunday’s passage he gives witness to Jesus on the cross.  Hardly an image of kingship.  It is in that moment we are reminded his Heavenly throne came at a cost, but was through his suffering, death, and resurrection that God gave Jesus dominion over the earth (and indeed the Universe).

Final thoughts:
The early 20th century brought with it both great advances and great turmoil.  The industrial revolution shifted the world’s economy from agriculture to industry, bringing with it both horrendous working conditions and marvelous advances in international trade and travel.  I look at those times and reflect on how our early 21st century shares a lot in common.  The birth of the digital age brings with it many of the opportunities and pitfalls of the industrial age.  Today’s division between rich and poor are driving populist and nationalistic movements not unlike those seen 100 years ago.

I think Pope Francis, in his wisdom, saw much of this turmoil growing, so to help re-center the people of God, he declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy as a reminder that we need to approach each other as Jesus would: with love, mercy, and forgiveness.  And now that the Jubilee year is coming to a close, and those special pilgrimage churches will be closing their Jubilee doors, this celebration of Christ the King serves as an important reminder to continue in that mission of mercy as we recognize Christ as the one true King.

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