Honoring both Jesus and Christ as King

Reflection for the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our November 18th newsletter

The liturgical year closes with the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, which holds three challenges for me. First, is the concept of kingship. In the book of Samuel, when the Israelites asked Samuel to appoint a king over them “as other nations have,” Samuel resisted until God told him to grant the people’s request—but with a warning that by asking for a king they were rejecting God. Through many centuries there have been benevolent and malevolent kings. It was King Herod who targeted Jesus for execution. In the history of this country, the first European settlers crossed the ocean to escape the dictates of a king, and the framers of the U.S. Constitution designed a political system of checks and balances to prevent rule by a dictator, a king. Yet there are people in countries around the world, including the United States, who support leaders who try to place themselves above the law and rule by dictate. This Feast was not instituted until 1925 when Pope Pius XI mistakenly saw an end to absolute monarchy. Today there are many uprisings by people who refuse to accept a dictator “king.”

The second challenge for me is how we interpret the title of the feast: Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Are “Jesus” and “Christ” one and the same? We tend to speak of “Christ” as Jesus’ last name, but some contemporary theologians and spiritual writers explore who we mean by “Christ,” of whom Jesus was one very special expression, but not the whole expression of God. Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF writes about The Emergent Christ. In his new book, The Universal Christ, Richard Rohr, OFM, quotes numerous scriptures which indicate that Christ has existed “from the beginning,” so “the Christ cannot be codeterminus with Jesus.” (P.17)

So a final challenge for me is what to make of this feast. In human history kingship does not have a great track record, even though there have been just, generous kings. In the Church, Pope Francis insists on the need for clerics to exercise “shepherd leadership” in which they bear “the smell of the sheep,” not the trappings of kingship. In secular society, dictatorship whether by kings or presidents or other leaders must be resisted by freedom-loving people. I can celebrate this Feast, then, in my understanding that there is one King of the Universe, the Christ who is the “firstborn of all creation,” in whom were created all things in heaven and on earth,” (Col.1:14), including you and me, and who is also the Word Made Flesh in the birth, life, and death of Jesus. My role is to do all I can to help God’s “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” a kingdom of love, mercy, peace and justice.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on November 19, 2019 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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