The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Cycle C
Author: Fr. Patrick Butler, LC
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43
Fr. Patrick Butler, LC
THEME OF THE READINGS
Jesus Christ is King
and Lord of the cosmos - of creation and salvation.
He is the fulfillment of the promise of perpetual rule
to the house of David. However, his Kingship differs from
that of David. He rules triumphant from the cross, where
he is regarded with disdain by those who sought a
temporal and political messiah or king. His Kingdom can be
recognized only by those who believe that he is the
Son of God.
The principal message of the liturgy this
week can be found in all three Readings. The First
Reading recalls the anointing of David as King of Israel.
For the people of Israel, the King represented God and
was a mediator for the people. David was first chosen
not by the elders, but by God himself, who saw
in the heart of David a man after His own
heart. He is the prefigurement of the future Messiah, fulfilled
in Christ – the true and only mediator between God
and man, the faithful Son who perfectly fulfills the will
of the Father, whose Kingdom will never fail.
The Gospel debuts
with Jesus´ adversaries, rulers themselves, mocking him and challenging him
to a show of power if he is indeed the
messiah. Saving himself from death would be a sign of
power. The inscription above the cross states plainly, "This is
the King of the Jews," without further commentary. One of
the two criminals crucified with Jesus cries out in a
bitter, unbelieving tone, rebelling against impending death, that Jesus should
extend his act of saving himself from death to the
two criminals with him.
None of these personages understands Jesus´ Kingship
and the nature of his Kingdom. Only the other criminal,
who recognizes his own sinfulness and Jesus´ innocence, has the
eyes to see the Kingdom that Christ´s death establishes. He
asks to be remembered and, since his words are tantamount
to a confession of sinfulness and a public profession of
faith, Jesus assures him that he will be remembered. In
fact, he will join Christ in the eternal Kingdom, in
St. Paul puts in more doctrinal terms - but no
less beautiful - the truth of the Kingdom. In the
first place he declares, "He [the Father] delivered us from
the power of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom
of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins." This is the reality that the "good
thief" discovered. Secondly, St. Paul goes on to write the
New Testament hymn that proclaims the plenitude, the fullness, of
Christ both in the order of creation and in the
order of salvation. This hymn concludes by restating that "…in
him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,/ and through
him to reconcile all things for him,/ making peace by
the blood of the cross/ through him whether those on
earth or those in heaven."
In conclusion, Jesus´ Kingship is essentially
fulfilled in eternity, but it is begun in time. After
all, he established his Kingdom on the cross, by freeing
sinners and bringing them to Paradise. Christians also work to
further Christ´s Kingdom on earth, recognizing all the while that
its fulfillment will be in eternity.
This liturgy gives a
wonderful opportunity to center our attention on the person and
the mystery of Jesus Christ. We often have a poor
Christology, which is the knowledge of the dimensions of the
person of our Lord.
This solemnity gives an opportunity to
focus on Christ as savior - as my savior. He
rules as King by giving his life for me. My
heart should be no less moved than that of the
"good thief," who experienced this reality in an existential way.