November 18, 2016

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus 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’s liturgical year.

Once, Samuel was a single volume. In time, editors divided the volume into the two books now seen in the Bible. These books record major events of the reign of King David in Israel, which was from 1004 to 971 BC. Scholars classify it 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 to bring them more closely to God. He 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.

It clearly says that Jesus is the absolute keystone of creation. Through Jesus, all people possess the hope of eternal salvation. Through Jesus, Christians share in the very life of God.

Magnificent in its imagery, this reading acclaims Jesus as the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).

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” (Lk 23:38). It is said that Roman authorities placed a sign with this title above the Lord’s dying body. They meant it to warn potential rebels of what rebellion against Rome brought. In fact, it was a proclamation of profound fact.

The title situated Jesus in the full sweep of salvation history, that pattern of encounters between the merciful God and the Hebrews. Jesus was of the Hebrews. He was a Jew. God had promised the Jews salvation. Jesus was the Savior fulfilling this promise.

The Gospel tells of the criminals being executed beside Jesus. One bitterly blasphemes, cursing his fate. The other beautifully professes Jesus as Messiah. It is a majestic story of human faith and of divine forgiveness.

Reflection

When Pope Pius XI established this feast, many monarchies still reigned in Europe.

Americans never can understand monarchies, burdened as they are by grade school lessons about Britain’s over-bearing King George III at the time of the American Revolution. In modern monarchies, ideally, the king or queen embodies the highest national values.

Most associate Queen Elizabeth II with the United Kingdom. Actually, she is monarch, and head of state, of 15 independent nations, Australia among them.

Two years ago, Elizabeth II visited Australia, in a trip that was bittersweet. Given her age, some said that she would not come again.

Greeting her as queen of Australia, his queen, the country’s prime minister said that Australians have always cherished democracy as the enablement of the innate dignity of every person, justice for all, compassion for the unfortunate, and peace among peoples, and they hope for the future believing in the human ability to rise above evil and fear.

Seeing in these values the path to what is good and godly, Australians drew a constitution to embody these values. Many have died for these values in wars against tyranny. Australians live for these values.

“Your Majesty,” he then said, “You are one of us.”

Christ the King is one of us. He identifies the greatest of values, and shows us the way to achieve them. †

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