Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
The last Sunday of the liturgical year is dedicated to the feast of Christ the King. To understand the significance of this feast, it is might be good to know about the origin of this feast. The feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. This is the period between two World Wars. The world was witnessing the rise of dictators and autocrats because of whose greed, treachery, pride and self-will thousands were left wounded, homeless, hungry and poor. It is in this scenario that the Pope thought of proposing to the whole world a model leader: Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.
Now what was so special about Jesus that he should be called the king of all of us?: 1. While all other kings were born in a palace he was born in a cattle shed; 2. While all other kings grew up in opulence, he had to flee from his house, town and country for safety; 3. While all the other kings had servants and people at their beck and call to carry out their orders, this king was a servant, even washing their feet; 4. While all the other kings instilled fear among others, this king felt at home in the company of the poor and was loved by children; 5. While other kings used sword to show their power and weapons to extend their territory, this king used love as his weapon to win hearts of people. He conquered the world not through wars and violence, but through offering himself and shedding his own blood to save others.
Mark link, the Jesuit author, would describe the kingship of Jesus in two ways: First, Jesus is king because of who he is, and secondly because of what he did. First of all, Jesus is king because of what he is. To give an example: When Magnus Carlson defeated Viswanathan Anand to become the chess champion in 2013, the papers referred to Carlson as “the Chess King”. Similarly we call lion as the king of the jungle because of its raw power and strength, or mango as the king of fruits because of its high nutrients. So, if who ever or what ever is best in a category can be called the king, Jesus can truly be called King of all human beings, because he is the best and perfect human being ever known and lived. Centuries have past and there has not been one person as popular, as admirable, as great, as talked about, as written about like Jesus Christ. Therefore, in every sense he can be called truly the king of humanity.
The second reason why Jesus can be called king is because of what he did. In April 1865 when the slain body of Abraham Lincoln was lying in state, in the long line of people who came to pay their respects to him was also a poor black woman and her little son. When they reached the president’s body, the woman lifted up her little son and said: “son, take a long, long look, that man died for you.”
Yes dear friends, what that black mother said to her son can, I believe, be said by every mother pointing to Jesus: “child, take a long, long look, He died for you.” In the book of Prophet Isaiah we read: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; and by His wounds we are healed.” (Is. 53:5)
So dear friends, what is our take away from this feast of Christ the King today?
- First of all let us try to know Jesus, the eternal king of humanity whose kingdom lasts forever: When in our daily lives we have to face the brunt of bad governance and governments, with corruption, anarchy and lawlessness we should not get discouraged, because no human kingdoms have lasted for eternity. If we take a walk in Rome from the central station to the banks of the river Tiber we can see Colosseum, Circomassimo, the Roman Forum and Largo Argentina. They all tell the stories of great kings and empires, but what remain now are just ruins. The French Military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, after his defeat at the battle of Waterloo in 1815 and banished to the Island of St. Helena seems to have said in his loneliness before death: “No kingdoms in this world lasts except that of the Nazarene.”
- The second message that we could take from the feast of today is to recognize what Jesus did for us and provide us with the impetus to be always loyal and be part of this kingdom. St. Paul reminds us in First Corinthians that “we have been bought with a prize” (I Cor. 6:20) and therefore we are called to live as worthy citizens of this kingdom. Now how do we become a worthy citizen? It is by following the rules of this kingdom. And there is no other rule given to us by the king, except the rule of love – loving God, loving one another.
What the Roman soldiers said after arresting Jesus as a mockery, let us say with conviction: “Hail king of the Jews”, nay Hail king of the universe. God bless us all. Amen.