Solemnity of Christ the King – A Servant King
Solemnity of Christ the King
2Sam. 5: 1-3 Col. 1: 12-20 Lk. 23: 35-43
A SERVANT KING
Jesus’ kingship should not be understood in terms of his control over us, rather in terms of his responsibility towards us.
Queen Isabella was the wife of Hungarian king John Zapolya. Once she went to a church to pray along with her mother-in-law. Before starting to pray, she removed the crown that she was wearing and kept it aside. When her mother-in-law enquired about it, she answered, “How can I wear the crown before the king who rules the world?” As we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, we are called to remind ourselves that there is a king who has power over everything and who protects us always.
Jesus’ Kingship & Control
Even though it is consoling and exhilarating to have Jesus our king, still it also has to be kept in our mind that the image of Jesus as a powerful king, if not understood properly, could do more disservice than good to our lives. Normally when we think of a king we think of a person who wields so much of power, controls everything, behaves according to his like and dislikes, and who throws his weight upon others and shows how powerful he is. This is the image we conjure up when we think of a king. We detest such a king. Certainly Jesus is not a king in that way. We need to know that Jesus himself did not want to be such a king at all. Though Jesus had a chance to become a king (to rule over others), he declined it (Jn. 6: 15). He resisted the temptation of imposing himself upon others. Even though his disciples did not behave to the level of his expectation, instead of imposing himself upon them, he gently guided them.
Presenting Jesus as a powerful king who controls everything may have some undesirable consequences: (a) We may develop a lot of fear towards him and that would lead us to please him. (b) In the name of following Jesus, we may try to be more power-centred and authoritarian in our relationship with others since we think of him to be so. (c) We may try to control others, trample down upon their rights and feelings, and feel no qualm about it at all. We may feel that it is quite okay. (d) In the face of atrocities and injustice, we will naively think that Jesus would one day suddenly intervene and set things straight (as we see the heroes in movies), and we will not do what we are supposed to do. So, in short, perceiving Jesus as a powerful king who controls everything would have a lot of negative consequences in our lives.
Jesus’ Kingship & His Responsibility
However there is another way of understanding the kingship of Jesus. It is in terms of his responsibility towards us. A true king is the one who takes up responsibility for the growth of his people and assures a life of security to them. There have been some exceptionally good kings who were very responsible and loving towards their subjects (E.g. David). Jesus, as a person responsible for our growth, leads us into the fullness of God.
We are assured today that there is nothing much to worry or fret about in our life, since we have got someone who protects us and guides us. Remembering Jesus as the King of the Universe is highly consoling for us since we are aware that we have someone as our king who is loving us and responsible towards us. There is nothing which is not under the purview of his loving hand. It gives us an awareness and assurance that our life-events are not some haphazard effects of some undesirable, outside forces, rather that they are animated and guided by his loving hand.
However it is also important that we behave responsible citizens of his kingdom. It is not enough to know that Jesus is responsible towards us, but the more important thing is that we behave as responsible subjects and only then we will be able to experience his loving responsibility towards us. Among the two thieves on both his sides, one was irresponsible and careless in his words towards Jesus, while the other had a more responsible approach towards him. It was the latter who had the privilege of entering into his kingdom. When we are responsible towards him, we will find him to be more responsible towards us. When we have love towards him, we will find him having so much of love towards us. It is not that Jesus reciprocates the measure we give him, but we receive from his infinite love and mercy as per our attitude and mindset. Our attitude is like a pot while the love of Jesus is like an ocean. We get from him as per our attitude towards him.