"King of the Universe"

This Sunday is one of my favorite feast days, the Feast of Christ the King!  I’m always hoping for a spirited rendition of “Lift High the Cross.”

Below is my reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, republished here with permission from Catechist Magazine, where it originally appeared.

To read this Sunday’s Gospel, click here:  John 18:33-37.

Reflect:  This Sunday we celebrate the great solemnity of Christ the King. We honor the glory and dominion of Christ with the grand title “King of the Universe.”

But what is the nature of this kingship? What does Jesus mean when he stands before Pilate, beaten and bleeding, and says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world?”

When we look into the pages of the Gospels, we do not find the things that our world associates with kings. We find no jeweled crown, no vast estates, and no wealth to speak of. We find no armies, no servants, and no political power. In fact, we find that most Gospel references to Jesus as a “king” are insults! They are sarcastic words meant to humiliate Jesus. Recall the Roman soldiers who stood before him as he hung on the cross and called out: “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37). They had already placed on him a crown of thorns and purple robes, and kneeling in front of him, they had laughed at this “king” (Matthew 27:29).

The kingship of Jesus is a paradox, a contradiction. Yes, our God is mighty, powerful, and wealthy beyond comprehension. But in his son Jesus, he has shown himself to be deliberately weak, powerless, and poor. This is the kind of king we worship. This is the divine king who became human, like us. This is the king who wrought our salvation through blood, sweat and tears. This is the king that bewildered many of his contemporaries but ultimately “makes sense” to his followers. This is the king who reigns in our hearts.

It is fitting that the celebration of Christ the King directly precedes our Advent observance. Our celebration of the deliberately humble kingship of Jesus prepares us for the coming of the small and vulnerable Christ child. Even the lowly manger, his first throne, signifies the kind of king we have in Jesus. He does not reign from a distant castle or a fortified compound. This king is present with us. He is close to us. He is one of us.

Ask Yourself: How can I imitate the deliberate poverty and humility of Christ? How does this give me strength and power?

Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, teach my heart the true meaning of power as humility, service and love. May I embrace the quiet power of your manger and your cross.

Ask Your Students: How does our world understand power? How does Jesus understand power (think about the kind of power he shows us on the cross)? Which kind of power should we strive for?

Reprinted with permission from CATECHIST magazine.  For subscription information visit catechist.com

Christ with Thorns,  Carl Bloch (1834-1890)

Christ with Thorns, Carl Bloch (1834-1890)