Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King

A. The Bible as Guide in Life and Liturgy (Sunday Readings)

B. Dialogue: Kingship of Christ, Source of Confidence, Call for Unity

A. The Bible as Guide in Life and Liturgy (Sunday Readings)

First Reading (Daniel 7:13-14). His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty. In the introduction to the first reading last Sunday a few words were said regarding the Book of Daniel. It was written about 164 BC when the pagan king Antiochus was trying to utterly destroy the Jewish religion and the worship of Israel’s God. The message of the book was that the tyrant would not succeed. All the kingdoms of the earth would pass away, while the kingdom of God would remain forever. The message of today’s reading is the same. The visionary Daniel sees one like a Son of Man coming from above, from heaven, not like earthly kings who come from below. The one like the Son of Man represents in a way the persecuted Jewish people. They will be victorious. The vision would have given great confidence to those suffering severe persecution at that time. God’s rule, the kingdom of God, is present in a very real way in every age. In the New Testament this vision suits Christ admirably. It contains a very apt description of the kingdom of God, of the kingship of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 92[93]). The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed

Second Reading (Apocalypse 1:5-8). Ruler of the kings of the earth … he made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God. This vision is about the kingship of Christ. Christ is ruler of all earthly kings. But his kingship, his royal status, is not just for himself. He loves his people for whom he has died, and has made them a kingdom, a line of kings, and also priests. This is part of a New Testament presentation of Christian life. Believers are both kings and priests, just as God had promised Israel at the Exodus (Exodus 19:5-6): “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all peoples. Indeed the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom (or: a kingdom of priests), and a holy nation”. The text does nor refer to kings or ministerial priests in our present-day sense of these words. Christians are consecrated and made a kingdom and priests to serve God the Father, and this through living a genuine Christian life. It is in this way that the kingdom of Christ and of God becomes a reality in space and time.

Gospel (John 18:33-37). It is you who say that I am a king. During his public ministry Jesus preached the kingdom of God, yet to come but also a present reality in his preaching and healing. Now before his death the scene changes to Jesus himself as king. He has been accused by the Jews of a political offence, of presenting himself a king. The conversation between Pilate and Jesus revolves around this. Jesus admits that he is indeed king, but not in any earthly sense of that word. His kingdom is not of this world. As king his mission is to bear witness to the truth. He is rather a shepherd king, and his own listen to his voice as sheep would to that of a shepherd. This defines what Christ’s kingdom is intended to be — bearing witness to the truth and the message of the one whose humiliating death founded the church as his abiding witness on earth.

The Bible in Dialogue with Questions of the Day: Kingship of Christ, Source of Confidence, Call for Unity

A psalm on the kingship of God begins: “The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice” (Ps 97). Belief in the kingship of God and of Christ is a source of confidence. God reveals himself as king principally for this purpose. He controls human destiny. No human dictatorship can or will destroy his plan. Belief in this kingship is very often stressed in times of crisis. This is clear in the case of the vision of the Son of Man in the book of Daniel. It was a cause of confidence for those suffering bitterly for their faith in the God of Israel. The feast was first instituted by Pius XI in 1925 in response to growing nationalism and secularism. It gave confidence in times of totalitarianism. To the visionary John, Jesus Christ presents himself as the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To him every knee is destined finally to bow. He is with his church in every age, witnessing to the Father’s truth, and where necessary calling for repentance. In the judgment scene of John’s Gospel Pilate may be taken as typical of an unbelieving political power of any age. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. Its true nature is understood through the gift of faith. Christ the King is the faithful witness. All members of his kingdom, that is the church, are called to be witnesses to his truth in the world. In Christ’s own words to the visionary John they are a line of kings and priests to serve his God and Father. In Jesus’ own words to Pilate, he came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and those who are truly of his kingdom and on the side of truth listen to his voice. Today’s feast has a simple message for us all: Let us have unbounded confidence in God, in Christ our King, who is ever with his church to strengthen her in true faith. But let us also listen to the voice of Christ the true witness and to that of the Church, founded to bear witness to Christ’s kingdom in our own day.

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