Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Dear All,

We have arrived at the end of the Liturgical year. The Feast of Christ the King is quite recent in our two millennia old church. It was established in 1925 in an attempt to counter the rise of modern secularism. The word secularism comes for the Latin “Seculum” meaning earthly creation or world. After the First World War there was a growing sense of the power of humanity to rule itself. God did not seem to be in charge. The world in the midst of an identity crisis was experiencing its own authority crisis. The Church promoted this celebration to present the person of Jesus as “king of the universe”. Hitler, in Germany would see himself as dominator of the world only a few years later and we all know how that ended with the tragedy of the Second World War. In today’s secularism we pray to allow Jesus to be our Servant King in the midst of tension with the many little personal tyrants within us urging for their places of power; like ego, fear, revenge, pleasure, as well as many other struggles for supremacy and control. Allowing His lordship into our lives is what the spiritual life is all about.

The First Reading for this Feast is a vision of Daniel written in apocalyptic style (explained in last week’s reflection). Four beasts have been destroyed, that is Babylon (the place of the Jewish captivity around 900 BCE), and the power of God is prepared to be handed over to “a son of man” or a mysterious person who receives true authority and supremacy from the “Ancient One”. Kingship of the known Jewish world had been taken away by kings of foreign origin, but now, the vision is reporting that the Ancient One was returning true heavenly power and glory to a special one, a “son of man” or an anointed for revelation and service of God and God’s people. This will be an everlasting kingdom giving the people of God, including us today, trust and hope.

The Second Reading is from the last Book of the Bible, Revelation also known as the Apocalypse, part of the apocalyptic literature mentioned above. In the introduction of the Book, the visionary John offers grace and peace from God who is, who was and who is to come. Then he exclaims that this grace and peace also comes from Jesus Christ, who is the Faithful Witness, the First Born of the Dead and the Ruler of all the Kings of the earth. What is the meaning and application for us? First of all, Jesus is the Faithful Witness who stood before the Jewish Sanhedrin and proclaimed that He was the Messiah. He stood before the Roman King Pilate, and proclaimed the Truth that He, Jesus, was the King. Revelations was written to encourage the Christians of the ancient Roman Empire to stand

up in front of persecution and give witness to Jesus Christ even if they were putting their lives in danger. It also encourages us to stand for the truth, even when the truth may not be popular or is ridiculed by the some. But more subtle than that, it encourages us to stand up for the truth when our personal advancement may be jeopardized, such as, standing up against unethical business practices within the company we work for, or standing up against the character assassination of someone we work with whose job would then be available for us. I am tempted to ask, “why should I suffer when everybody else is advancing by these ‘normal’ business practices?” Yet the answer is straightforward: There is nothing normal for a person created in the image and likeness of God to reject ones spiritual essence for the sake of “momentary” and monetary gain. The early witnesses were told in Revelation “By patient endurance you will survive.” It is infinitely better for us to suffer the injustice of the world than for us to reject our call to stand as witnesses of the God of Truth. We do have in Jesus, the faithful witness, a model that guides us and gives us strength.

In this week’s Gospel according to John, Jesus tells the Roman King of the Palestine world at the time, “My kingdom does not belong to this world”. When Pontius Pilate insists in getting confirmation, “So are you a king?”; Jesus replies, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." The early community of John had a strong trust in the truth of who Jesus is. The kingdom of God is already here as Jesus lives within and among us now. But we know also that his presence is obscured by the continued presence of evil in the world. Individuals and institutions are quite far from being aligned with the will of God, resulting in an incomplete kingdom. Though we are inclined to think of the kingdom as still to come: a zone beyond the grave, Christ wants to be our king here and now.

The complete text of today’s Readings can be found at

With God’s Love and Blessings,


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