Christ the King Year B
In the Old Testament we read how the people of Israel had asked David to be their king. Simply because for them was a warrior-hero, who had overcome their enemies and led his people to many a victory. Here was the recognisable stuff of kingship. No wonder that His disciples once asked Him “Will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?” They expected someone who was going to lead Israel to victory over their enemies – the Romans.
It was into this mix that Christ came with His own unique and startlingly different claim to kingship. Listen again to the words in the First Reading. “Ruler of the Kings of the earth…. the Alpha and the Omega (the Beginning and the End)…the Almighty”.
It is significant that in our liturgical year we place this feast immediately before Advent; before the time when we look to the coming of a king who was born in a stable: when a Gloria was sung in the heavens, but the child was laid in the straw of a manger. From the beginning it was clear that this child, of the house of David, was to turn upside down the accepted ideas of sovereignty and kingship. Firstly, He was carpenter’s son, and there were no trappings of royalty around Him. Secondly, He showed no sign of making the Jews into a free and independent people, but would only say that His kingdom was not of this world, and that, anyway, it was to be found in the heart of every one of His followers. Thirdly, He stood, captive and flogged, before the representative of Rome’s power; was crowned, but with thorns; dressed in royal purple, but as a mockery; given a king’s sceptre, but it was a reed. Fourthly, instead of a throne, Jesus was nailed, naked, to a criminal’s cross; a cross that bore Pilate’s inscription “King of the Jews”.
How do we take this double thinking into our own lives? We want to praise and marvel at the one who is Son of God, and in whom all things, us included, have existence. We need to honour and we need to obey. But Christ calls us friends; He bids us look for a kingdom within each one of us, and offers us that equality which must exist where there is friendship. This is not to claim a part in a kingdom of external power, but to enter into a relationship of love. We can do this when we speak to Him in prayer and when we welcome Him in the Eucharist. We are in that kingdom when we help each other, and when we are patient with ourselves. In Jesus we have a King who understands both pomp and poverty.
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