Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Last Sunday of Ordinary Time
Daniel 7:13-14
Revelation 1:5-8
John 18:33b-37

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of “Christ the King” in 1925. Initially it was celebrated on the last Sunday in October. In 1970 its observance was moved to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, one week before the beginning of Advent. It seems particularly important that we should consider a Savior whose kingship is unlike all others and then enter a season that looks forward to a Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

The thought of a king or queen governing the United States does not appeal to most of us. Nonetheless, many of us tend to enjoy the drama associated with European royalty. We looked forward to the marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William. We anticipated the births of their children. For the most part our fascination ends there but the imagery of kingship still exists. There is the Magic Kingdom, the Lion King, and myriad other images that tell us that the notion of kingship is still alive.

But, this is not a sentimental or romantic feast for the Catholic Church. Christ introduces us to a form of kingship that is alien to our world. In this Gospel, he tells us about his kingship. He is the one whose crown is made of thorns and whose throne is a cross.

The Gospel reading for today is taken from the Passion narrative. It is part of the exchange between Pilate and Jesus during his trial before the Roman Procurator. This trial reveals the Evangelist’s concept of the central issue in the life and ministry of Jesus. Pilate’s idea of kingship revolves around political power. Jesus stands before him—vulnerable and helpless—and challenges Pilate’s power. The message in today’s Gospel is a message of the power of the gentle and persistent love of God. The suffering servant is our king. He who has blessed our humanness lays claim to our loyalty.

Today we gather to proclaim our willingness to be ruled by Christ now and in the future. The kings of this world are irrelevant but we look to the Lord who rules at all time and in all places in his Church. Of his kingdom there is no end. At our celebration, we gather to bear witness to the truth. We come together to be Church. We gather to say truth and to be truth. We acknowledge our sovereign King with cries of “hosanna” which are more than words. They are the echoes of who we are. Our Eucharist is more than the protocol due a king. It is an acknowledgment to the world that we are subjects.

Christ who is the truth comes into contact with the world through us. We can speak the truth only because of the intimate relationship that we have with the one who is truth.