November 19, 2021

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis weekend, in great joy and thanksgiving, the Church closes its year. As it looks back through the days and months of 2021, it gives thanks for salvation achieved in Christ the Lord. He is king, and justice and peace only occur when Jesus truly is acknowledged as Lord.

The Book of Daniel supplies the first reading for this Mass that celebrates Christ as the king of the universe. When this book was written, God’s people were experiencing many trials. The book includes a certain literary exaggeration among its techniques, impressing upon readers the depth of the troubles being faced by God’s people at the time, but also dramatizing God’s redemption and protection. God subdues every evil force.

In this reading, a certain unnamed representative of God appears. He is identified by his title, “Son of Man” (Dn 7:13). He is not always eagerly received, however. Still, his forbearance clearly is a model to follow. He will prevail. (In the New Testament, Jesus was called the “Son of Man.”)

For its second reading, the feast’s liturgy looks to the Book of Revelation. Of all the New Testament books, none is as dramatic and indeed mysterious as Revelation.

This reading, however, is straightforward and bold, leaving no question as to its message, that Jesus, the holiest and the perfect, rose from the dead and rules the world. He fills with eternal life and strength all who love God. Jesus has no equal. He has no substitute. His way is the only way. His example alone is worth imitating. He gives life. He is victorious.

St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a bittersweet reading for this great, joyous feast. In this scene, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the Holy Land, called “Palestina” at the time of Jesus, went immediately to the heart of the charge against Jesus.

Was Jesus a king? Did he rival the mighty emperor of Rome? Jesus replied, but by referring to a reality very different from what Pilate has in mind. Pilate was interested in the political and social stability of the Roman Empire. Jesus spoke of a kingdom much more profound, that of human hearts, an eternal kingdom.

Jesus affirmed kingship. He was indeed the king, anointed by God to bring all people back to the Father in heaven.

He is the sole provider of everlasting life. He gives peace of heart and strength of purpose. He provides direction. He is Lord.

Reflection

Admitting that the high and mighty come, they also go. Politicians, athletes and entertainers gleam like shooting stars, but they vanish. Enduring on the public stage for almost seventy years, however, has been Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

She has consistently been among the world’s most respected women. Her claim to fame has not been about sheer power. Instead, it is about inspiring patriotism and high ideals through example.

She came to be a symbol of devotion to responsibility naturally.

Elizabeth II grew into adulthood during the Second World War when her parents, the late King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, were treasured examples of the highest national and human values. They inspired their people, and this inspiration uplifted British hearts.

In the war’s darkest days, rumors circulated that the king and queen, or certainly their daughters, would flee to the safety of Canada. Once, a man shouted at the present queen’s mother, “Are you going to Canada?” (To escape the trials and tribulations in Britain.)

Her mother turned, and in her legendary poise and quickness of thought, said, “My daughters will not go without me. I will not go without the king. And the king? The king? The king will never, ever, ever leave you!”

The royal family never left. Their steadfastness earned for them the British people’s love. Elizabeth II enjoys it still.

Christ the king will never, ever leave us. †

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