Tag Archives: Christ the King

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: Cycle C

1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3

David was not perfect.  David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past.  Doesn’t that give us all hope?  God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.

As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David.  This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with his people.   Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).

We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here?  Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…

2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20

This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms.  What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .

Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups.  Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful.               (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading.  In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land.  Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon.  So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom.  From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).

We must note that Paul says that in Christ God was reconciling all things to himself.  The Greek is a neuter (panta).  The point is that the reconciliation of God extends not only to all persons but to all creation, animate and inanimate.  The vision of Paul was a universe in which not only the people but the very things were redeemed.  The world is not evil.  It is God’s world and shares in the universal reconciliation (p. 123).  What a way to look at life!  This resonates so closely to what Pope Francis says in Laudato Si, “…all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things.  Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator,” (#83)  This is the kingdom of God!

THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45

What two reactions to Jesus are seen here?  Who is the only one to call Jesus by name?  What does this mean to you?  How is this a story of conversion?  What kind of Kingship do we see here?

Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory.    (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden.  When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven.  Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).

Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI.  There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth  (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287).  Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?

Christ the King, cycle B

1st Reading – Daniel 7: 13-14

We need to appreciate what has come before the passage we read today in order to know the wonder of this vision of the coming of the son of man before the throne of the Ancient One. The writer has been sharing a vision of four beasts who have emerged from the sea, the realm of evil and chaos. These beasts represent the various oppressive kingdoms that have tormented the Jewish people: 1st the lion with eagle’s wings and a human heart (the Babylon empire), 2nd a bear with three ribs (the Medes), 3rd a leopard with four heads and four wings (the Persian rule), and 4th a beast with huge feet and iron teeth who ate and trampled over everything. This fourth one was the Greek empire; its ten horns represented the ten kings of the Seleucid dynasty. This was the dynasty under which Daniel and his people were now suffering. Unlike the tyrants who emerged from the realm of evil (the sea), the Son of Man would come from heaven, from goodness, from God. The tyrants’ rule was cruel, but would exist for only a time. The Son of Man would rule over all peoples for all ages. (Preaching Resources, Nov. 23, 2003)

When this book was written, the author probably intended the image of the Son of Man to represent all the faithful people of the Lord – people whose trust in God would end in fulfillment and not disaster. As Christians we see in this passage a fore-seeing, a ‘vision’ of the final establishment of Christ’s rule. All things are not yet under our King’s feet – all do not follow his way of love. But that all will do so in the end is our Christian hope.

(Reginald Fuller, “Scripture In Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu.)

2nd Reading – Revelation 1: 5-8

Here, too, is imagery of hope for those who are persecuted by an evil beast (Rome). Christ is given three titles. 1st Jesus is the faithful witness to the truth of God.  Jesus’ very life, death and resurrection is the witness par excellence of God’s power of love and goodness. 2nd Jesus is called the first-born from the dead. He is Lord of the living and the dead: in resurrection he gains a victory over death; he is the first-born in whom the power and the honor of his father is fully invested. 3rd, Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth; he is affirmed as king and messiah. In all these ways we are assured that Jesus loves and frees us by making us his own – a nation of priests in God’s service, mediators of divine presence here on earth. In that way, his kingdom that is not of this world (the gospel) will transform this world. (Preaching Resources, Nov. 2003)

From John Kavanaugh, S.J. “The Word Encountered,” http://liturgy.slu.edu. :

Throughout the readings for this Sunday we ‘dream’ of kingship and regal splendor – we hope for an eternal Lord whose decrees are worthy of trust. Here in Revelation we find the “Alpha and Omega” – the One who is and who was and who is to come. This king is a liberator and lover. The lord of history who stands before the throne of God is not a lion. He is a lamb. In John’s gospel, we see that he is a servant-king, who washes his follower’s feet. In the face of Roman power, he is strangely grand and noble in his vulnerability and the utter truth of his being. He does not muster armies. He just invites. In Jesus’ kingdom people are drawn into a life of liberation, freed from false securities armed only with humility and truth. The human heart will never outgrow its longing for such a promised friend and rule. Something deep rises from within us in the face of its beauty. It awakens a long-lost ache to give everything else away for a cause so good and true . . . “When Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” (an old Shaker hymn)

The Gospel – John 18: 33b-37

In this conversation between Jesus and Pilate, John the Evangelist is offering to his readers a challenge. Jesus — faced with suffering and death at Roman hands — invites Pilate to listen and to respond to the truth. But Pilate just responds with his own question – a question for which he does not want an answer: “What is truth?”  We, too, are asked through this story, “Will you respond to the truth?” Jesus and his kingdom do not originate from human scheming and political power. Jesus’ kingdom is not like Pilate’s. Pilate’s kingdom is one of domination, privilege, power and prestige. In Jesus’ kingdom, love and justice and service are present. Jesus’ kingdom comes into human history, enhancing it and leading it beyond itself . . .  (Mary Birmingham, W&W for Year B, p.744)

From Henri Nouwen, written in his journal on the feast of Christ the King, 1995:

Today, “Christ is presented to us as the humbled king on trial for his life and as the glorious ruler of the universe. The greatest humiliation and the greatest victory come together in Christ today. How important it is for us to look at this humiliated and victorious Christ before the liturgical year begins. Today, Christ, humble and victorious, reminds us to stay close to him — close to him in humility, close to him in victory. We are called to live both aspects of Christ in our own daily lives. We are small and big, specks in the universe and the glory of God, little, fearful people and sons and daughters of the Lord of all creation.”        (Preaching Resources, Nov., 2003)

Scripture Commentary for Christ the King, cycle A

1st Reading – Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17

Prophet to his people during their exile in Babylonia, Ezekiel shared their sense of having been failed by their leaders, who, from David onward, had been ideally cast in the role of shepherd of God’s flock, Israel.  As history attests, however, that ideal was not always realized and, as a result, the people of God were left unattended, like sheep left to founder on their own without a shepherd.  Right before this reading, Ezekiel reprimands failed shepherds in the past.  Only God will restore and lead God’s people to wholeness.  It is a message of hope  (Preaching Resources from 11/20/2005).

From The Word into Life, Cycle A, 122:

Usually we reserve the title, “pastor” for the leader of a religious community.  The pastor is to shepherd . . . But perhaps we fail to recognize that every believer is also commissioned, through baptism, to look to the needs of others. We are a priestly peopleand priestly people “pastor.” Ezekiel responded to the needs of his despondent exiled community in the early sixth century BC. To encourage them, he presented God as a shepherd. Yahweh would focus attention on the lost, the strayed, the injured, and the sick. Later, in today’s gospel we find Jesus who fulfills this image and also identifies with all those who suffer.

Ezekiel’s vision of a new beginning under leadership may seem to be slightly diminished by the ominous parenthetical phrase included in verse 16:  “but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.”  Some scholars suggest that this phrase is a gloss, later interpolated into the text and, as such, should be omitted.  Certainly, it seems unlikely that God would shepherd the people lovingly with one hand and strike them down with the other.  Others may be more correct in pointing out that this surprising phrase may be the result of a copyist’s error. Only a yod (smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet) differentiates the Hebrew text (I will destroy) from the Greek (Septuagint), Syrian and Vulgate translations, which read: “I will strengthen the fat and the strong.”

What other meanings do you ‘get’ from all this? What if the fat and strong were fat and strong because they took too much for themselves?  (Celebration, Nov. 1999)

What of the reference to goats?  Why are goats generally seen as bad in scripture?  Goats were often used for sin and guilt offerings.  Most Palestinian goats were black (vs the white sheep).  Goats often lead the flock, so they can be associated with political leaders; perhaps Ezekiel was comparing the goats to the failed shepherds (Dictionary of the Bible, p. 315).

2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

In the Jewish tradition, offering the ‘first-fruits’ of a harvest was a way to bless the entire harvest – a way to consecrate the entire harvest. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, the ‘first-fruits’ of God’s Kingdom, we have the promise and blessing of abundant life in this Kingdom. So death is an enemy that has been overcome!

(Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship for Year A, 581)

When Paul talks about Adam, he talking about all of us when we choose that which is bad for us. It is our ‘false-self’ – our deeply insecure self that does not trust that God has created us to be God’s image. As Adam, we reject living in a loving, trusting relationship with our creator. In other words, ‘being Adam’ is being in sin. It is giving into our endless capacity to destroy ourselves. As ‘Adams and Eves’, we are faced with death – with the fact that someday the world will have no time or place for us. It is only our faith in the God that Christ Jesus brings us that saves us from this terrible predicament. In Jesus we find a God who loves us despite our insecurities and wishes to show us the way beyond this death sentence. (Thoughts from John Dwyer, “A Retreat with Paul,” Part 2)

What does Paul mean by Christ’s delivery of the kingdom to the Father and his subjection to him? What Paul seems to be saying is that all the ways that God has acted toward the world is revealed and upheld in the history of Jesus of Nazareth. After all has been redeemed (set free), we will be able to know God directly. For now Christ is the visible face of the invisible God. Jesus leads us to and involves us with this God of love. When we are brought fully into God’s loving presence we will be enjoying the Beatific Vision; God will be all in all, not only in Christians but in the whole world that Christ restores fully in God’s love. All death will finally and forever be destroyed. That is the Good News of Jesus Christ!(Scripture In Depth,Reginald Fuller,http://liturgy.slu.edu

The Gospel – Matthew 25: 31-46

This is an apocalyptic parable. It is about the ‘end-times’the ultimate outcome of history. It attempts to give a view of history and humans from God’s point of view.

It is about the end times as it challenges us in living as a Christian here and now.

From Exploring the Sunday Readings, Nov.2002:

As Jesus explains it, there is only one way to exercise power in this world: for the sake of the powerless.  Those with food and drink, should share it.  Those who are on the inside should be hospitable to those on the outside.  If someone is cold, someone with clothes should keep him or her warm.  If someone is sick, those who are well should be attending.  If people are oppressed, those who have their liberty should look to their needs. If you want to inherit the kingdom, you can do so right now: Put your hat on and go visit the sick Christ.  Set a place at your table for the lonely Christ.  Forgive, support, or lift up the burdened Christ.  Then, the kingdom begins to grow within us – and among us.

From The Cultural World of Jesus by John Pilch — On Sheep and Goats:

Sheep came to symbolize honor, virility, and strength.  Goats were considered lustful and lecherous animals.  Unlike rams, goats allow other males access to their females. Also, goats were associated with sin, for example, the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:21-11) Even in Greek culture, the ram was associated with honorable Greek gods like Zeus, Apollo, and Poseidon, while the goat was associated with Greek gods known for shameful and unrestrained behavior like Pan, Bacchus, and Aphrodite. What is the basis for Jesus’ final, definite determination of in-group (sheep) and outgroup (goats)? Hospitality! The kindness and steadfast love that one owed one’s family was to be extended to others, especially those in need.

From Living Liturgy, Year A:

What’s surprising about the judgment (in Matthew 25) is that neither the good nor the wicked knew that what they were doing or not doing was for Christ. It was just true empathy – feeling with the one in need. Another point about Christ’s judgment — growth in discipleship and living the paschal mystery is measured by the extent to which we look upon the other as Christ, loving the other as Christ, doing for the other as Christ.  This is how we come to eschatological joy.  This is how we “share in the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.” Think about it: from the first moment of creation, God planned for us to share in this everlasting joy!

Scripture Commentary for Christ the King, cycle C

1st READING – 2 SAMUEL 5: 1-3

David was not perfect.  David was a sinner, yet he would be the one Israel would remember as leader of their splendid past.  Doesn’t that give us all hope?  God comes to us as we are and can create in us a light for the world, if we let God shine through us.

As a sense of messianic hope developed in Israel, it was logical that the messiah-to-be would be referred to as the Son of David.  This king is a ruler who is in solidarity with is people.   Thus, king as benevolent ruler and as shepherd are primary motifs in the first Old Testament theology of kingship (W&W, Birmingham, p. 540).

We are your “bone and flesh” – what is meant here?  Reflect on what it means for our messianic king to be bone and flesh WITH us…

2ND READING — COLOSSIANS 1: 12-20

This is from a Christian hymn probably used at baptisms.  What do some of these phrases mean to you . . .

Scholars suggest that this letter was written most likely in the 80’s A.D. in reaction to false teachers among the Christian groups.  Influenced by the Greek culture of their day, there were beliefs that regarded angels and other ‘spirits’ as rulers of the universe. They were associated with stars and new moons and pagan rituals. These people wanted Jesus to be seen as subordinate to these ‘deities,’ since by his incarnation they viewed him as being contaminated by human ‘flesh.’ This writer firmly tries to correct this view with imagery that is profound and beautiful.               (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘transferred’ has a special purpose in this reading.  In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land.  Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon.  So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom.  From darkness to light…from slavery to freedom…from condemnation to forgiveness…from the power of Satan to the power of God  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 111-112).

THE GOSPEL — LUKE 23: 35-45

What two reactions to Jesus are seen here?  Who is the only one to call Jesus by name?  What does this mean to you?  How is this a story of conversion?  What kind of Kingship do we see here?  Why does the Church give us this picture of Christ, the King?

Jesus chose to exercise his authority as service and forgiveness. He reigns not from a throne, but from the cross. The Jesus who is worshipped today as Lord of lords and King of kings does not Lord it over others, but, rather, he loves and leads all who will follow him to the kingdom of eternal life, peace, and glory.  (Celebration, Nov. 2001)

The word ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word meaning a walled garden.  When a Persian king wished to do one of his subjects a very special honor he made him a companion of the garden, and he was chosen to walk in the garden with the king.  It was more than immortality that Jesus promised the penitent thief.  He promised him the honored place of a companion of the garden in the courts of heaven.  Surely this story tells us above all things that it is never too late to turn to Christ (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, p. 299-300).

Christ the King was designated a holy day 1925 after World War I by Pope Pius XI.  There was a strong desire to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly kings and wealth  (Knipper, Hungry and You Fed Me, p. 287).  Don’t we always need to remember where our allegiance lies?