Christ the King

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, which, among other things, signals for us that the liturgical year is coming to an end and Advent is almost here. We hear in our first reading the prophesy of Daniel, who saw “one like a Son of man coming” and saw this son of man receive “dominion, glory, and kingship.”

Calling Jesus a king is part of what made some people nervous during his lifetime; it certainly made Pilate nervous. (In today’s Gospel we listen to Pilate question Jesus about being King of the Jews.) Misunderstanding the nature of Christ’s kingship, people like Pilate and Herod saw His being king as a threat to their own power. Misunderstanding the nature of Christ’s kingship, others thought it meant a relationship of subjugation.

But Christ’s kingship is not political. As Pope Benedict explains, Jesus is a new kind of king. “This king does not break the people with an iron rod (cf. Ps 2:9) – he rules form the Cross, and does so in an entirely new way. Universality is achieved through the humility of communion in faith; this king rules by faith and love, and in no other way.”

Thus, today’s feast, in Pope Benedict’s words, “is not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines.”

Happy feast of Christ the King!