Solemnity of Christ the King


by John Dalla Costa

Many of us bemoan the state of leadership. Financial crisis, political gridlock, and scandals in senates, and at city halls, have generated tsunamis of cynicism. With political divisions festering, we find ourselves more divided at the very moment when shared purpose and resolve are desperately needed.

Israel at the time of Samuel was embroiled in its own social crises. Treachery and scandal had soiled the elites. The people were in shock from defeat in battle that included the capture of Ark of the Covenant by enemies. When the elders anointed David as King of Israel, they thrust on him the people’s messianic hopes; not only to re-forge political order and unity, but to also re-consecrate the covenant with God.

Even though conventional kingship began to fail during David’s reign, his was the template for messiah that continued to shape expectations. This is why the leaders present at Golgotha “scoffed” at Jesus, and why the soldiers “mocked” him. But as we read in today’s gospel, not everyone missed the transformational qualities of the Jesus’ kingship. Usually we are instructed by the compassion Jesus shows to others. However, in this instance, when Jesus is most vulnerable, it is the thief crucified with him who speaks from the heart, defends Jesus, exposes injustice, and initiates reconciliation by asking for Jesus to remember him.

This kingship of mercy is authentic leadership because it leverages authority from love, not power. And it works because it generates unity from compassion rather than conquest.