The celebration of Christ as Universal King marks the conclusion of the Church’s liturgical year. Throughout the year the scriptures have placed us at the heart of an unfolding drama. Our longing for salvation has been answered in the birth of Christ. We have become one with him through the mystery of his death and resurrection. His words have given meaning and purpose to our daily lives. The life that we share with Christ is, however, as yet incomplete. In celebrating Christ as King we reach out to what is yet to come, and in so doing are invited to begin the building of Christ’s kingdom in our present lives.
The language that describes Christ as King draws heavily on the hope that burned brightly despite earlier persecutions of God’s people. At a time when foreign powers threatened to obliterate tiny Israel, the Prophet Daniel described God’s presence among his faithful people as a power that could never be overcome by the empires ranged against her.
“I gazed into the visions of the night. And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire pass away.”
Incredible though the language of this vision might appear, let us allow it to express the hope that underpins our faith. Despite our daily struggles, doubts and uncertainties, let us believe that Christ’s light is greater than our darkness, that his life raises up what has died within us, and that he alone gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It is in this sense that, despite our frailties, Christ is our King and Lord.
St John’s account of Jesus before the court of Pontius Pilate directs our attention to the powers that rule our lives. More than we care to admit, we surrender our lives to the sometimes subtle yet dominant powers of our day. We are easily undermined by status and power. Pilate addressed his question as the representative of the supreme power of his day.
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
The response given by Jesus invites us to give our lives to a kingdom whose values are radically different from any self-serving power.
“Mine is not a kingdom of this world. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”
When, in heart and mind, we live as Christ Jesus, his kingdom is begun. He is our Lord, embracing all that we have been and all that we shall become. To him be glory and power for ever and ever.
This article first appeared in the Catholic Herald magazine (20/11/15)
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