34th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Christ the King
This Sunday brings to a close another liturgical year. We end the year by proclaiming Jesus as King. Not too many years ago, the feast of Christ the King was celebrated on the last Sunday of October. But there it made litttle sense; Christ the King fits beautifully here. In the course of this past year, our liturgial cycle has moved from a whole world’s waiting for its Savior, through his coming in infant impotence, his dying-rising, and his return to the Father. Today we complete ritually the end of the story. The liturgy enlightens the high point of creation, when mankind and all that it implies, even death itself, will be subjected to Christ.
Jesus did come to establish a kingdom. He made it clear the moment he began to preach. He tried to explain its mysteries through many parables. But Jesus chose not to exercise full reign over this world, his kingdom, until he comes again in glory at the end of time. To symbolize this fact -that Jesus will exercise his full reign only at the end of time-, the Church has now moved the feast from October to this Sunday which marks the end of the liturgical year.
Jesus is very different from earthly kings. Today’s Gospel shows that Jesus is king by exercising his power of forgiveness. Jesus did not win his kingdom in the blood of a battlefield, but through the blood of his cross; his enemy was not another king, but sin itself. When Jesus came to this world, a powerful trinity of tyrants terrorized mankind: Satan, sin, and death. He crushed these three kings. Not that they have vanished from the face of the earth, but their despotic power has been broken. We no longer need to be slaves of Satan and sin; we die only to live more gloriously still. Jesus conquered these three kings not by force of arms, not by pomp and power; he defeated them by dying and rising.
Ever since that moment, whether we live or die, we are in the hands of the Lord. For this Jesus Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living (Rm 14:7-9). King Leopold II was once in consultation with his ministers, when the breeze blew a pile of documents off his desk onto the floor. You pick them up, said the king to his nephew, Prince Albert, the heir apparent. Leave him alone, he said to the embarrassed ministers who did not like to see their future monarch grovelling on the floor. A constitutional king must learn to stoop. Today we celebrate a king who stooped to conquer sin and death, by allowing himself to be put to death on the cross.
But although we belong to th Lord in body and soul -for he has paid the price with his blood- he will not compel our obedience. It all depends on the extent to which we acknowlegde him as Lord. In the final analysis, Jesus Christ is a King of hearts; he will never force himself on us; he will only draw us with the cords of love.
Today we should profess our faith and trust in Christ as our King, and proclaim before the whole world our loyalty and our devotion to him. We should also resolve to persevere in fighting against sin and evil, until that day when he will come again in all his glory to take full possession of his eternal and universal kingdom.