Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
WHO IS THE KING OF GLORY?
Ancient Israel understood God to be the only “King” that they needed. As time went on, human envy and insecurity crept in, and they wanted a king like their neighbors, an earthly king who would lead them to greatness. God’s people came to depend upon and find their strength in frail humanity rather than their faithful Creator. When that failed, they hoped for a human Messiah King to give them back that fragile sense of security. We can understand, perhaps, their confusion upon encountering the powerfully gentle and gloriously humble Jesus.
THE KING OF HEARTS
Are you aware that today’s joyous feast is not even one hundred years old? In his 1925 encyclical Quam Primas, Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King. Remember what the world was like in those days—the rise of nationalism and secularism in Europe and un-Godly false prophets, leading inexorably to the Passion of the Holocaust and wide-ranging martyrdoms. No wonder the pope was anxious to show the world a true King! Saint Luke today goes straight to the heart of kingship, of a king’s devotion to his beloved people. In this topsy-turvy kingdom, we see not a king decked in power and glory, but the crucified “King of the Jews” who robes himself in the suffering of a sad and lonely world. His forgiveness and heart-breaking love throughout his passion is a hard act for humans to follow, and yet Jesus gives us his life and death as a model. And then he tells us that, along with the “good criminal,” we will be with him “in Paradise.” What more could we ever ask?
It is fitting that Pius’ encyclical ties this royal feast to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This King who gave his heart to humanity in the sacrificial love feast of Good Friday gives his heart every day to a broken world still trying to figure out who he is.
Today’s Readings: 2 Sam 5:1–3; Ps 122:1–2, 3–4, 4–5; Col 1:12–20; Lk 23:35–43