Solemnity of Christ the King
Feast of Christ the King
Dan. 7: 13-14 Rev. 1: 5-8 Jn. 18: 33b-37
KING OF LOVE
We have got a king who protects us carefully and loves us always.
It is said that when Napoleon was in the prime of his glory, he uttered, “There are only three emperors in the world. One is Alexander, the Great, the second is Julius Caesar, and the third is Napoleon Bonaparte.” But towards the end of his life, when he was all alone in Elba, (where it is said that he uttered the palindrome ‘Able was I ere I saw Elba.’) it seems that somebody gently reminded him of his statement and Napoleon said, “I mistook. Alexander was not the greatest king. Neither am I. Only Jesus is the king ever living and ever ruling the hearts of people.”
The Bible gives various metaphors and symbols to help us understand the incomprehensible God. No single metaphor or symbol can adequately represent all dimensions of God. Each metaphor helps us understand one or two dimensions of God. For example, when it is said that God is like a father or mother, we are reminded of the loving aspect of God. When God is portrayed as a shepherd, it points to the dimension of His ‘guidance.’ Similarly, when God is presented as a rock, it refers to the permanent and ever-lasting aspect of God. In the same way, the metaphor of kingship refers to God’s protective care of his people.
a). Two Reasons: Against
There are a few people who are bit critical of presenting Jesus as a king. They think that presenting Jesus as a king does more harm than good. They give two reasons:
a). Both in the Biblical and secular history, we see that most of the kings were bad. Only a few were good or exceptionally caring. But their number is very less. In general, most of the kings have been self-centred and egoistic. This point has been succinctly pointed out in 1 Sam 8: 11-17: When the Israelites asked for a king, this was the way God responded to them: “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.”
b). Kingship is connected with having power over others and infringing upon others’ rights. This is equivalent to ruthlessness and callousness. This is what the history tells us: ‘Peoples’ rights have been violated and their freedom has been trampled upon by the ruthless actions of the king.’ This is the precise reason why people moved from aristocracy to democracy.
Against such a background, some serious minded people think that presenting Jesus as a king will only do a disservice to him; it will only help people to develop a negative attitude towards God and Jesus; this will induce more fear in the hearts and minds of people.
b). Two Reasons: For
Though there is some truth in these arguments, the Mother Church has her own reasons in inviting us to celebrate this feast. Let us mention two of them: a). One of the primary duties of a king is to protect his subjects. When we say that God is our king, we mean that we are well protected by the ever-living and ever-loving God. The type of protection that God offers us is not only physical, but also emotional and spiritual. God protects us from the enemies – visible and invisible. Today many people suffer from loneliness and they think that nobody is there to take care of them. But today’s feast is a strong reminder that God is always there to protect and safeguard us.
b). It is true that a king rules over others. But the tool that Jesus uses to rule over us is not power, but love. His kingdom is a different sort of kingdom. His words to Pilot were: “My kingdom is not from this world… 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” (Jn. 18: 37). Today’s preface is very eloquent on it: The kingdom of Jesus is ‘an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.’
c). Two Challenges:
a). As we have accepted Jesus as our king, we are called to surrender ourselves totally into his hands and be His subjects. If we really know for sure that Jesus reigns over us, then there is no place for worry, anxiety, restlessness since we have got a king who ‘will deliver us from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover us with his pinions, and under his wings we will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.’ (Ps. 91: 3-4).
b). In order to have peace and harmony at our families, workplaces etc., many of us tend to have recourse to power than to love. By force and power, we try to bring others under our control and establish peace and harmony. In the process of trying to establish our control over others, we trample down others’ rights and denigrate their human dignity. However this feast invites us to use the force of love, not the force of power, in dealing with others. Though using this force of love demands a lot of humility and patience, it is the force that will ultimately bring right type of peace and harmony that would last longer. When a friend of Abraham Lincoln told him that he was too lenient with his enemies, and instead, he should destroy them straight away, Lincoln answered, “Certainly I do destroy my enemies by making them my friends.”