Kingship

Today we come to the end of our liturgical year with this feast of Christ the King.  Interestingly, the gospel focuses not on Jesus’ resurrection, but on his crucifixion.  Why is that?  After all, the disciples only come to faith and an understanding of his kingship after experiencing him as resurrected.  But it is in his very crucifixion that he is established as “king.”  He subverts the traditional notion of kingship through his ministry and rules through his service to others.  In his death he spurns the typical notion of other kings who rule through violence and conquest.  Instead he rules with love and mercy, ultimately embracing the deadly violence of the world and willingly submitting to a cruel and painful death.  

It is by his death that he establishes a “new kingdom.”  This kingdom is not established for just a few.  No, this kingdom is set up for all of humanity where, as Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, Jesus “reconciles all things for him” (1: 20).  All are invited into this kingdom.  All belong.  Our belonging is a gift from God “who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light” (1: 12).  This gift comes from a God who has “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” (1: 13-4). 

It is by his death that Jesus assumes complete solidarity with us, and we are rescued from the “power of darkness.”  We are made citizens of the kingdom he establishes by our baptism.  Christ, our king is the “image of the invisible God” and rules as the “head of the body, the Church.”  We, the body, must recognize our common bond through Christ who is our head.  We all are one through the gift of his death and resurrection.  

In our oneness, we must work to respect the other citizens, our brothers and sisters of this kingdom.  We must seek understanding, love one another, create unity - not division - and seek reconciliation with those we have hurt or alienated.  This is our work as citizens of God’s kingdom.  It is a kingdom that is brought into fuller being by our ability to reflect God’s love, peace and mercy to those given to us as brothers and sisters on our earthly journey.  

And so, as we transition from Ordinary time to Advent over plates of turkey and stuffing this week, let us contemplate the ways in which we participate with Jesus’ kingly work of establishing God’s kingdom here on earth.  

-Chris McCullough

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