Solemnity of Christ the King


By Emily VanBerkum

First century Jews longed for God to send a Messiah to liberate them from the political tensions and scheming leaders of the Roman Empire. As foretold in Hebrew Scriptures, God’s ‘anointed one’ was to reinstate the Davidic monarchy and inaugurate God’s Kingdom on earth. Who was this special ‘anointed one’ going to be? Would they come with great pageantry and awe? Daniel interprets a kingly figure as the “Son of Man” given total “dominion,” while the Book of Revelation declares Jesus Christ to be glorious and the “ruler of the kings of the earth.”

These are lofty claims that stand in sharp contrast to Pilate’s sarcastic conversation with Jesus hours before His passion and death. In the Gospel we learn that instead of Jesus corroborating these claims, He announces that His Kingdom is “not from this world.” What does this mean? Is Jesus not the one to pronounce God’s Kingdom by serving as the political hero the Jewish people longed for? Today’s readings made me wonder how Jesus himself felt when followers praised him as a “King.” It seems so strange that an infant born in a manager, who walked barefoot on the Judean hillside, touched lepers, and ate with the marginalized, among many other uncharacteristic attributes, could be considered “King of the Universe.”

If I am honest with myself, this is precisely why this feast day is so difficult for me to understand. My relationship with Christ is more intimate and personal than an exalted figure praised as “King of the Universe.” This all encompasing title clashes with my understanding that a king does not wear a crown of jewels, but a crown of thornes. This reversal of expectations serves as the basis for me living out my kingly baptismal calling. Like Jesus, I am not to be a ”king” that is waited upon, but rather I am a king that is called to serves others. To me, that is true and full kingly participation in God’s Kingdom. Sunday’s Readings: Daniel 7:13-14 Revelations 1:5-8 John 18:33b-37