I AM ALSO A king
“King” is no longer a popular term today. Some countries still have kings or queens but they function more as an honorary symbol and as such they are generally respected.
But often enough, when talked about in many contexts, the word “king” seems to be associated with dictatorship, authoritarianism or totalitarianism. A negative image is provoked! That is why I think the feast of Christ the King today is a very good opportunity for us to get our understanding straight and clear. Let us make 3 points:
First point, the historical context in which Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 is significant. It was the jubilee year of the 16th centenary of the Council of Nicaea – a very important Council of the Church, taking place in the year 325, defining the divinity of Christ and constructing the first part of the Nicene Creed that we pray today. Furthermore, the world of 1925 was struggling with the violent rising of nationalism and fascism. The Church wanted to affirm the primacy of Christ who is the king of truth and love. We follow this good King and reject other destructive powers. Well, who is King Jesus and what are his characteristics?
This is our second point, let us make some comparisons:
A king of the world (KW) uses power to dominate and control others while King Jesus Christ (KJC) uses his power only for service of others à “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35)
KW takes possession of power and other privileges for himself. He claims for himself kingship while KJC chooses to empty himself to be for others; and because of his total sacrifice for us, God exalts him. Let’s read from the words of St. Paul:
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this,
God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:6-11)
KW’s throne is of gold or precious stone while KJC’s throne is the Cross which is dirty with blood, a symbol of humiliation and injustice in the eyes of people, but it is a sure sign of the conquering love of God over violence and sin.
KW demands others to give their lives for his security while KJC gives his own life for others. He dies for all, even sinners, even his killers (Rm 5:6; Lk 23:34).
KW claims to be king when in a favorable condition while KJC refuses to be made king when there are very good conditions, e.g. at least 2 times:
- after miracle of multiplication of bread for more than 5,000 men, not including children and women (John 6:15)
- during his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem when people call him “Son of David” (Mt 21:9), (Palm Sunday)
But KJC acknowledges his kingship in worst situations:
- before Pilate as an accused criminal to be sentenced to death (Mark 15)
- when he almost dies on the cross, he promises salvation in his kingdom for a thief crucified with him (Lk 23:43)
KW’s kingdom belongs to this world while KJC says his kingdom does not belong to this world. “This does not mean that Jesus has proclaimed and enacted a purely spiritual or otherworldly kingdom, but that his present and future reign does not operate according to the world’s criteria of power and dominance.”
+ It is very important to remember this point, esp. during this time when we are overwhelmed with the violent attacks of extremists in the name of religion. As Christians, we only follow Christ, who is always non-violent and refuses to use violence at all costs (Mt 5:44; 27:42)
Third point, we are also kings. In Baptism, we received 3 offices: priest, prophet and king. Being a king means being a leader. We do lead others according to our vocation, our way of life and our testimony. But one thing needs to be made clear here: Our kingship or leadership can only be meaningful when we follow closely the example of the true King Jesus Christ.
Let us fix our eyes on the King crucified on the Cross. We will be good kings. And when we are good kings or leaders, our families, our community, our Church and our world will be much better.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
 Cf. John R. Donahue, Hearing the Word of God – Reflections on the Sunday Readings Year B, p. 138.
 Ibid, p. 139.