November 20, 2015

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis weekend, the Church concludes its year. In the preceding 12 months, the Church has taught us as we have gathered on the weekends about Jesus. It has taught us the Gospel of Jesus. Now, it ends the process by joyfully proclaiming Christ as king.

The first reading is from the Book of Daniel. Written about a time of great hardship and anxiety for God’s people, Daniel summoned the faithful to steadfastness and hope. He urges trust in God, come what may.

Daniel also spoke of the faithful servant who is identified with the title, “Son of Man” (Dn 7:13). This servant, the Son of Man, lived through the hardships and perils endured by all the people. Yet, he triumphed. God, “the Ancient One,” received him and gave him dominion, glory and kingship (Dn 7:13). The Son of Man’s reign will never end. His kingship will never be destroyed.

For its second reading for this feast, the Church presents a passage from the Book of Revelation. Deep in its symbolism and reference to Old Testament figures and images, Revelation is also eloquent and powerful in its exaltation of God, the Lord Jesus and virtue.

This weekend’s reading extols Jesus as “ruler of the kings of the Earth” (Rev 1:5). He is the Savior. He has made us a royal nation dedicated to God and to his service. He reigns over all the Earth, from a heavenly throne above the clouds.

St. John’s Gospel supplies the last reading. The reading comes from the fourth Gospel’s impressive and extensive passion narrative. John’s entire Gospel is superb both as literature and as divine revelation, but the passion narrative is especially compelling.

This feast is one of two major liturgical events in which John’s passion narrative is read. The other is the liturgy of Good Friday.

All four Gospels record the Lord’s trial, passion and death in great detail. Each, however, has its particular emphasis.

John’s particular insight is that Jesus was triumphant, standing before Caiaphas or Pilate, facing the mob, experiencing the horrors of Roman torture, and finally dying on the cross. Not even the might of the Roman Empire could overwhelm the Lord. Not even the viciousness and evil of human sin could defeat him.

Indeed, Jesus is king, as the Lord insisted to Pilate.

Reflection

In these readings, the Church calls us to remember that Jesus is the king of the entire universe. He reigns over all. It is more than a mere acknowledgement of divine creation or of almighty power.

Jesus is king over evil, the worries and hardships of life, the scheming of humans, and, of course, over death itself. He prevails. He lives. All else comes and goes. His word prevails. If we truly bond ourselves to Jesus truly in love and death, we too can rise above even our own mortality.

To give ourselves to Jesus, we need his strength. We need not hopelessly yearn for this strength. The Lord offers us strength and peace uncompromisingly and in unlimited supply—if humbly we ask for it.

A heroine of the Second World War was The Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina, great-grandmother of the present Dutch monarch. She came to throne when her father, King Willem III, died. She was only a child. Her mother, Queen Emma, Willem III’s widow, became regent and reigned until Wilhelmina was of age.

Queen Emma herself was very wise. Once, on a national holiday, she led Wilhelmina to the palace balcony. When the crowd below saw the little monarch, they cheered and sang. Wilhelmina was delighted.

Knowing that she was queen of The Netherlands, Wilhelmina asked, “Mommy, do all these people belong to me?” “No, dear,” the queen-regent answered, “You belong to them.”

The wonder of this great feast is that Christ the king belongs to us. He died for us. He gives us life. †

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