The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Lectionary: 162 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading from the 2nd Book of Samuel gives us insight into kingship of Christ as the One who unifies the people of God. Following a civil war within ancient Israel, representatives of the northern tribes have come down to Hebron in the southern kingdom and offered to place themselves under the kingship of David thereby creating a truly united kingdom. For the first time, Israel becomes one country under one king and Jerusalem is made the capital. More importantly, the Lord says that this king will be a “shepherd,” indicating the type of king he will be. David’s kingship foreshadows the even greater kingship of Christ whose mission is not merely to unify the tribes of Israel, but to unify the whole world through His mystical body, the Church.
The response for this week’s Psalm is “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”
In this week’s second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the nature of Christ’s kingship is expressed through a magnificent hymn to Christ’s glory, and the opportunity for humans to participate in that glory. “Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son.,” says Saint Paul. As the first reading showed the unifying power of King David, this reading shows the unifying power of Christ on a truly cosmic level. “For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible…” “All things were created through him and for him …he holds all things in unity.” This amazing passage conveys to us the truth of Jesus Christ being not just a king, but the King of Kings.
This week’s Gospel from St. Luke seems like an ironic choice for a reading for Christ the King. Here we see Jesus being declared as “King of the Jews” in the inscription above Him as He was dying on the cross, but this was in sheer mockery from unbelievers. It would seem absurd to a Jew in that era to witness a king hanging on a Cross. And yet, it was by His death on this Cross that Jesus accomplished our salvation. By grace, somehow the “good” thief recognizes that Jesus truly has a kingdom, but that it is not of this world. When he says, “remember me when you come into your kingdom,” this criminal makes an act of faith so powerful that Jesus promises him a place in paradise. Jesus’ kingship is derived from doing the Father’s will even to His death, and despite all appearances, His suffering, death, and resurrection will yield a kingdom that fulfills and surpasses the earthly kingdom of David. As the second reading reminds us, “he was first to be born from the dead, so that he should be first in every way…all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth.”
Reflection question from Bishop Vásquez
We expect kings to have a luxurious life. Jesus’ crucifixion presents a starkly different image of him as Servant-King. On the cross, Jesus was taunted by his executioners who expected him to save himself. But Jesus’ death, like his life, was entirely about self-emptying mercy. Jesus transforms the Cross into the symbol of Christian living which is a life of self-giving. How do you imitate this self-giving service?