Reflection & Dialogue: Reflections on the kingship of Christ
In his letters Paul rarely speaks of the kingdom of God. In exhorting the Roman Christian community to live in harmony, he remarks: “The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). To the Corinthian community, given to debates and personality cult, he writes that the kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in the transforming power of the Gospel (1 Cor 4:2). The author of the letter to the Colossians, as can be seen in today’s second reading, prays that the Christian community there “may be strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might, for all endurance, patience and joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance on the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in who we have redemption and forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:11-14). For Paul, then, the kingdom of God is a present reality as well as an otherworld eternal one.
The kingdom of God was central to the teaching of Jesus. He proclaimed it coming in his teaching and miracles. He was destroying the power of Satan. Without mention of the kingdom he also made himself central to his mission. “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me …; he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for me sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). Without mention of the kingdom the apostle Paul stresses the centrality of Christ for believers and all creation. “God has highly exalted him, … that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 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 (Philippians 2:9-11). The kingdom of God is centered on obedience, the obedience of Christ and the obedience of faith of believers. Christ was obedient to the Father, obedient even to death (Phil 2:8); he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Acceptance of the Christian faith means obedience of heart and mind to Christ and his saving work. Paul had been given the mission to “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his (i.e. Christ’s) name among all the nations … who are called to belong to Christ” (Romans 1:5-6; see also Rom 15:18)). The mystery of the Father’s saving plan, kept secret for long ages, revealed through Christ, the Church and Paul, was made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Rom 16:25-26). Believers are sanctified through obedience to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2, 22). The life of Christians is a success against all obstacles when their obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).
With regard to today’s readings, we are reminded of the simple origins of the Davidic kingship in the anointing of David as king of all Israel; the second reading stresses the presence of the kingdom in this world, a kingdom of light, in a life of freedom from sin, while the Gospel text stresses that Christ reigns as king from the cross.