SUNDAY NOV, 20, 202
World Day of Youth
Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long Live Christ the King!”
First Reading (2 Samuel 5. 1 – 3)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122.
Second Reading (Colossians 1. 12 – 20)
Gospel (Luke 23. 35 – 43)
It is extraordinarily significant that the liturgical year ends with the feast of Christ the King. For
this great fact—that Jesus Christ is the king of the world—is indeed the culmination of the biblical
revelation. It is, in a very real sense, the point of the whole story the Bible…
On the last Sunday of the liturgical year the church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. This
feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and is observed on this Sunday as it helps us to
meditate on Christ the King and Lord and at the same time reflect on the Second and Final Coming
of Christ, the last Judgment, and the end of the world. The Solemnity of Christ the King is a newer
feast in the Catholic Church. The pontiff was witness to a turbulent time in the world’s history. The
First World War had just come to an end. Secularism was on the rise and dangerous dictatorships
were emerging in Europe and beyond. Christ had long been referred to as King, but Pope could see
the respect and reverence for Christ’s authority waning in the midst of the unrest during the first
part of the 20th century. In response, the feast was set with the intent to reaffirm and refocus faith
and respect in the kingship of Jesus. Pope Pius XI felt that nations would see that the Church has
the right to freedom, and immunity from the state. Secondly that leaders and nations would see that
they are bound to give respect to Christ. Finally that the faithful would gain strength and courage
from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds,
wills, and bodies.
From the dawn of civilization, kings have arisen who have dreamed of possessing a world-wide
dominion, a universal kingdom that would last forever. But here we have a king who is remarkably
different from the kings of the earth. He came to serve all, even His enemies. He was a king, the
God man, with a vulnerable human nature and at the same time a person all powerful. To all
intents and purposes, Christ, on the cross, was the perfect picture of defeat. His enemies derided
and mocked Him; his companions, with the exception of John and a few women, had abandoned
Him. It remained for one of the thieves crucified with Him to recognise Christ for what He was a
King and he asks for a place in his kingdom and receives it. In the Gospel of today Jesus
demonstrates how he is messiah and king by granting salvation to a believing criminal merely for
the asking. In the first reading we heard how David became the leader of his people. But he
recognises that God alone is the true King of Israel. In the second reading we have a marvellous
picture of Christ. The incarnation was in God’s mind from all eternity and Jesus is the greatest
possible revelation of God’s love and mercy.
Many in today’s democratic set up will discover that the title “King” does not register too well.
Hence they feel that a better image of today’s Feast is achieved by presenting it as the Feast of
Christ the Leader. Leadership is the theme of the feast day Mass, as we have seen in the different
readings and it is an important theme for us, as Christians, to consider. All of us some time or other
would like to think of ourselves as leaders. If we listen to the average conversation and we find that
there is little done by others that we could have done better. Jesus certainly knew the oppressive
nature of secular kings and in contrast to them he connected his role as king to humble service, and
commanded his followers to be servants as well. In other passages of Scripture, his kingdom is tied
to his suffering and death. While Christ is coming to judge the nations, his teachings spell out a
kingdom of justice and judgment balanced with radical love, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. When
we celebrate Christ as King, we are not celebrating an oppressive ruler, but one willing to die for
humanity and whose loving-kindness endures forever.
In fact, there are two highly contrasting pictures of Jesus as King given in the readings today.
There is the highly triumphant picture give in the Second Reading from the letter to the Colossians.
Paul tells the Colossians how grateful they ought to be to God for having made them Christians
and citizens of Christ’s Kingdom. He then goes on to describe what Christ is to them as he is to us.
Jesus is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all
things. God wanted all perfection to be found in him, and all things to be reconciled through him
when he made peace by his death on the cross. He has prepared all for the everlasting kingdom of
happiness. Here Paul thanks the Father for what he has done to us in Christ. We already have the
deep experience of Jesus by the forgiveness of sins and membership in the church. In the central
verses of this passage, Paul gives us a magnificent picture of Jesus: he is the image of the invisible
God, the first born of all creation. In these and subsequent verses, he indicates that the incarnation
was in God’s mind from all eternity.
The institution of the feast of the Kingship of Christ was intended to be a rallying call to all
Christians to acknowledge the Sovereignty of Christ not only over Christians but also on all
creation. In the first reading we have David anointed king of Israel by Samuel the Prophet. But
Saul, though side lined by God already, refuses to step aside. This led to a prolonged struggle
between them and finally ends when Paul took his own life in a battle with the Philistines. With
Saul dead, all the tribes come to David in Hebron. God now sends David to Hebron and there he
draws his inspiration from the glory days of Israel’s origins. The tribes of Israel express their own
conviction that David’s appointment as King comes from God. David makes an agreement with
them before God, thus invoking Divine blessings on his reign. Those tribes once loyal to Saul
accept this divine appointment of David and affirm that he is the Shepherd of Israel. Shepherd was
a traditional title for a king and in Israel it was also a title for God. Thus at this point of his life,
David was their shepherd on behalf of Yahweh and the king was called upon to rely on God.
In the Gospel we are given a very different picture indeed. Twice in the passage, Jesus is referred
to as the King of the Jews. Two other times he is called the Messiah. All these references are
directed to Jesus as he hung on the cross and they are all made in mockery of him. Here we are
presented with a man being executed in shame and ignominy, bleeding and battered on a cross, one
of the cruellest and degrading punishments ever devised. Over his head are the mocking words:
“This is the King of the Jews.” To every human imagination he does not look like a king. People
are watching him die on the cross, as the leaders, soldiers and people too consider him a fraud and
a failure. The test they are using is the challenge that if he is truly the king and messiah why he
does not save himself and come down the cross. This indeed is the challenge before him of an
earthly king like Caesar and a spiritual king like Jesus. Certainly we prefer those triumphant
pictures where Jesus wears a crown and an expensively embroidered cloak with a sceptre in his
hand as he looks down benignly on his subjects. The Church has chosen quite a different picture
for today’s feast. It is to help us wake up out of our complacency and to become more aware of
how Jesus came to be our King and what he expects from his subjects. The kingdom of God is
about service, sacrifice and love.
Even while he is dying on the cross, Jesus reaches out to sinners with the gift of Salvation. This
comes as one of the two criminals being crucified along with Jesus asks to be remembered when
Jesus comes into his kingdom. Jesus grants him the salvation. The other criminal however, shows
no sign of faith and continues the mockery of others. What this criminal and others fail to
understand the divine necessity of Jesus’ death. They do not realise that what he is really doing by
dying on the cross is bringing about salvation for those who cannot save themselves. The passage
clearly tells us that in spite of the mockery and insult, Jesus is truly the king and Saviour. The titles
they gave him are true and accurate. Jesus redefines the true meaning of Kingship and the notion of
the kingdom. This is not a competition of royalty but an expression of leadership that culminates in
service. He shuns the status of power and might, domination and force as the moral and practical
foundation for life. Jesus is truly the master and king.
The feast of Christ the King celebrates the fact that there is one who is remarkably different. He
came to serve all and his kingdom is divine. In several passages of Scripture, his kingdom is tied to
his suffering and death. While Christ is coming to judge the nations, his teachings spell out a
kingdom of justice and judgment balanced with radical love, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. The
Scriptures speak of Jesus as God and also as King. He was born in the royal Davidic family.
Joseph and Jesus were not biological father and son, but legal father and son, and, therefore, the
throne of David belonged legally to Jesus. In the annunciation narrative we have the angel Gabriel
bringing the good news to Mary in Nazareth, saying, “He will be great and will be called Son of
the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will reign
over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” When the Magi come to Jerusalem
they ask “Where is the one born king of the Jews?” The priests inform them that he is born in
Bethlehem. We find another reference to the kingship of Jesus Christ in Matthew during his
triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Here people call him son of David and greet him as a king. Later
during his passion when Jesus is placed before Pilate, he is asked the question ‘are you the king of
the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replies.” Finally before his Ascension Jesus tells his
disciples: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” He is the king of the
universe, ruling over all.
During his life Jesus preached the Kingdom of God and openly told the disciples to seek first the
Kingdom of God and his righteousness. It means we must put God first in our lives. It means we
must come under the rule of this God/King, Jesus Christ. It means we must confess with our
mouths, Jesus is Lord, and does what he says. He alone is King of kings and Lord of Lords. He
called his disciples not servants, but friends, and bestowing on them a share in His priesthood and
kingship. Though he died, like other kings, he died willingly to save His people, and His death was
not a result of a battle lost or a plan gone awry, but of a glorious victory planned before the world
began. He rose in glory, and went to his heavenly coronation. Jesus knew perfectly well the
oppressive nature of secular kings, and in contrast to them, he connected his role as king to humble
service, and commanded his followers to be servants as well. Christ is the king that gives us true
freedom, freedom in Him. Thus we must never forget that Christ radically redefined and
transformed the concept of kingship. Christ Himself speaks of His own kingly authority in His last
discourse, as he explains the rewards and punishments that will be the eternal lot of the just and the
damned. After His resurrection, when giving to His Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing
all nations, He took the opportunity to call Himself king, confirming the title publicly, and
solemnly proclaimed that all power was given Him in Heaven and on earth.
Today we are honouring Jesus the King who humbled himself in order to raise us up to the status
of the Sons of God, a king who suffered the cruellest of deaths so that we could have an unending
life of happiness when we leave this earth. Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is in the midst of
you.” (Luke. 17:21). This is the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of God, which is much more
important than its exterior and corporeal aspect. For, if the Jews, who acclaimed Jesus the King
during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, had had the kingdom of God in them,
then, without any doubt, with the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit, they would have proclaimed
their faith in Jesus the King of the Jews five days later, at the foot of the Cross of Calvary! But the
day will come when the Jews will convert and recognize Jesus as their Messiah and their King.
Then, with all the Church, they will be able to acclaim Jesus the King of the Jews and the King of
the Universe, as if they had been there, at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. Today we renew our
loyalty to him, Jesus our King. We are privileged to be his subjects and more so his own chosen
ones. If we are with him we have the peace and happiness in and through him.
Reflecting on this feast Pope Benedict XVI said: We know from the Gospels that Jesus refused the
title of king when this was intended in a political sense, along the lines of the “kings of the
nations”. Instead, during his passion, he took upon himself a singular regalness before Pilate and
declared that his kingdom is not of this world. The Father entrusted to his Son the mission of
giving eternal life to man, loving him even unto the supreme sacrifice, and at the same time
conferring on him the power of judgment, from the moment he became Son of man, like us in
every way. The Gospel insists upon the universal royalty of Christ the Judge, with the magnificent
parable of the final judgment. The images are simple, the language is common, but the message is
extremely important: it is the truth on our ultimate destiny and on the criteria with which we will
be valued. In effect, the reign of Christ is not of this world, but brings to completion all the good
that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put into practice our love for our
neighbour, according to the Gospel message, we then pave the way for the lordship of God, and his
kingdom is realized by means of us.
The Church year ends awaiting the return of Christ, when evil will be defeated and Jesus will begin
his reign as King of kings. Christ’s kingdom begins in the community of people who live in a new
and different way because of God’s presence in their lives. Celebrating Christ’s kingship gives us
an opportunity to proclaim the good news that his second coming brings joy rather than fear, hope
rather than despair. We are cleansed and renewed and brought closer to our God. Today’s feast is
both a challenge and an opportunity for us to become aware of our call to become truly both
subjects and partners of Jesus our King. Long live the King! May his Kingdom come!
There once was a very wealthy and understanding king. This king had a huge boulder placed in the
middle of a road. Then he hid nearby to see if anyone would try to remove the gigantic rock from
the road. The first people to pass by were some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers.
Rather than moving it, they simply walked around it. A few loudly blamed the King for not
maintaining the roads. Not one of them tried to move the boulder. Finally, a peasant came along.
His arms were full of vegetables. When he got near the boulder, rather than simply walking around
it as the others had, the peasant put down his load and tried to move the stone to the side of the
road. It took a lot of effort but he finally succeeded. The peasant gathered up his load and was
ready to go on his way when he saw a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The
peasant opened the purse. The purse was stuffed full of gold coins and a note from the king. The
king’s note said the purse’s gold was a reward for moving the boulder from the road. The king
showed the peasant what many of us never understand: every obstacle presents an opportunity to
improve our condition.
Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long Live Christ the King!”