If you brought your child to the restroom during the Liturgy of the Word, you might walk away with one of two interpretations of Jesus as King. The first and second readings are bold and victorious. We see Christ coming on the clouds for the final judgment of heaven and earth. The Gospel sets a very different tone. Jesus is under arrest and facing death before Pontius Pilate. We know how this story will end. So if Christ is King, what does it mean? Is he a glorious conqueror or a suffering servant?
"My kingdom does not belong to this world." Here is the heart of Jesus' reign. He is a king -- and his "subjects" are alive and well on earth -- but, ultimately, Jesus' kingdom transcends our earthly concepts of power. Jesus faced down the temptation of a solely earthly kingship. At the close of his 40 days in the desert, the devil offered him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus only had to sacrifice his heavenly values and worship Satan. The same temptations to distort the kingship of Christ are present to us today. Jesus' invitation also endures. "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." It is important for us to belong to the full truth of Christ's kingdom.
First, our own hearts must be transformed. Our own rebellions in favor of selfishness and against holiness must be conquered by God's grace. Second, we must work to transform the world as best we can in our own corner of it. Like Jesus shows us by his life and death, this doesn't mean domination. It means service, sacrifice, respect, and love. Our lives must "testify to the truth" of Jesus Christ, who lays down his life for his people. That is the true beauty of Christ the King!
QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
The prophet Daniel foresaw the "coming son of Man." In what ways do you see this prophecy as a vision of Jesus Christ?
The opening verses of the Revelation of John affirm Jesus as "the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth." How is this belief about Jesus fundamental to our faith as Christians?
During his trial, Jesus tells Pilate that his followers "listen" to his voice. How is listening to Jesus' voice a spiritual exercise for you?
Live the Liturgy—Inspiration for the Week
We live in interesting times. Life is constantly changing. While this can be exciting on one hand, change also presents challenges. We live in an age of relativism where people can pick and choose the truths that suit them and build their own system of beliefs. While humans certainly have the freedom to choose, losing sight of long-standing universal truths is not such a healthy course. Jesus Christ our King is our universal truth! He is the God who is nonnegotiable, our non-option! In Christ, we know what truth is. He alone points us to God, our true selves, our proper relationships with one another, and the world in which we live. Christ directs us to the poor and vulnerable and teaches us what God's kingdom is meant to be. Christ is the king who serves others. He gets dirty. He ascends the throne of the cross. We are called to do the same.