November 22, 2013

Feast of Christ the King / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Second Book of Samuel furnishes the first biblical reading for this feast, marking the close of the Church year.

Once, the two books of Samuel composed a single volume. In time, editors divided the volume into the two books now seen in Bibles. The book records the major events of the reign of King David in Israel, which was from 1004 to 971 BC. It is classified as a history book in the Old Testament.

In this weekend’s reading, David becomes the king of Israel. He was more than a governmental authority or political figure. His task as king was to strengthen the union between God and the people. He was God’s instrument, but not in a plan to control people. After all, people had free wills allowing them to choose the course of their actions.

Rather, David was God’s gift to the people. By bringing them closer to God, David assisted in bringing them to prosperity, peace and life.

For its second reading, the Church presents a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. This epistle was written to the Christians of Colossae, a moderately important city of the Roman Empire.

Jesus is the absolute keystone of creation. All human beings and certainly all Christians come together in the Lord. Through Jesus, all people possess the hope of eternal salvation. Through Jesus, all Christians share in the very life of God.

Magnificent in its imagery, this reading acclaims Jesus as the “image of the invisible God.”

St. Luke’s Gospel supplies the last reading. It is a passage from Luke’s powerful Passion Narrative that recounts the trial and execution of Jesus.

Central in the story is the inscription placed above the head of Jesus on the cross. It read, “The King of the Jews.” It is easy, and probably accurate, to assume that this inscription was placed on the cross above the Lord’s dying body by the Roman authorities to warn potential rebels of the plight awaiting anyone who dared to defy Rome. It was also intended to mock Jesus.

Instead of mockery, the sign was a revelation. It situated Jesus in the full sweep of salvation history, that pattern of encounters between God and the Hebrews. Jesus was of the Hebrews. He was a Jew. Most importantly, Jesus was the first among the Jews, the king.

The Gospel then gives the story of the criminals being executed beside Jesus. One cynically blasphemes. The other beautifully professes Jesus as Savior. To him, Jesus promises life eternal. It is a majestic act of divine love and forgiveness.

Reflection

The Church closes its year with a brilliant and joyful testimony of Jesus as Son of God and Redeemer. He is the only source of true life. Furthermore, the Lord is the very embodiment of God’s endless love. Jesus frees us from our sins, as he forgave the dying thief on the cross at Calvary.

As Son of God, Jesus is God, possessing all authority over everything. Nothing can overcome or daunt the Son of God, not even death on the cross.

Americans generally do not understand the European concept of royalty. Monarchs exist to serve their people.

A great heroine of the Second World War was Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, great-grandmother of the present Dutch king, who came to the throne as a small girl when her father died. On a great holiday early in her reign, her mother led Wilhelmina to the palace balcony to receive the cheers of the crowd. Thrilled, the little queen asked, “Mommie, do all these people belong to me?”

Her mother wisely replied, “No, dear, you belong to them.”

The great lesson of this feast is that the wonderful, wonderfully loving and forgiving Son of God, Christ the King, belongs to us. †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!