Tag Archives: Feast of Christ the King

Gospel Reflection for November 22, 2015, Christ the King

17 Nov
Photo via Flickr user Sapphire Dream Photography

Photo via Flickr user Sapphire Dream Photography

Sunday Scripture Readings: Daniel 7.13-14; Revelation 1.5-8; John 18.33-37

Jesus tells Pilate, ” My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would be fighting to save me from being handed over. My kingdom is not from here.”

(John 18.36)

The final Sunday of the Church year, the Feast of Christ the King, holds up in Jesus an alternative vision of power for leaders in the world. Jesus testifies to truth that is not armed and ready to fight but to the truth he demonstrates in feeding the hungry, giving sight tot he blind, raising Lazarus. Jesus reveals God’s power is love that heals and gives life. To follow Jesus we must testify to the truth within us, in the gospels, and in our tradition that recognizes the sacredness of every person.

This week as we lament with the people of France who have experienced terrorist attacks, we need also to ask how we can build up the kingdom Jesus is talking about — the unarmed work of building world community. The representative from our district is the only Muslim in Congress. Yesterday he stood on the steps of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, urging people to extend their hands and introduce ourselves to the followers of Islam among our neighbors.

How can you be an instrument of peace where you live?

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Feast of Christ the King

27 Nov

This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, a relatively new feast in the two century-long history of the Catholic church. It was instituted in 1925 through the encyclical Quas Primas by Pope Pius XI, who believed that respect for Christ and Christ’s Church was waning due to the rise of secularism. While the pope hoped to influence leaders and nations to a greater reverence for Christ, he also aimed to strengthen believers and to remind them that Christ must reign in our hearts and minds.

In 1969, the feast got a new date from Pope Paul VI, who moved the feast to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Sunday in the church year before a new church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. In so doing, Pope Paul VI endeavored to highlight the eschatological significance of this feast, that is, how the notion of Christ the King is connected to the final events of history or the end times. While Christ’s kingship began in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, it will not be complete until the end of time.

Admittedly, I am bit ambivalent about celebrating the feast of Christ the King. On the one hand, the metaphor of Christ the King leaves me cold. I recognize that when we call Christ the King we are turning the concept of kingship on its head, radically shifting its meaning from that of a supreme ruler who holds himself above his people  to someone who gives his life for all people and who invites his followers to do the same. (This is one of the reasons why the gospel reading for this feast shows Jesus on the cross, not triumphantly leading his people.) But I also know that we sinful human beings call Christ the King in the real world where the metaphors we use for Jesus often come to prescribe social relationships, without people remembering the way in which Christ has overturned their secular-world meanings. We have all heard it: just as Christ is King of the church, men should be the head of women, not in the self-sacrificing, Jesus on the cross way, but rather in the oppressive ruler way. (And the examples could be multiplied! Where there is a “dominant” group trying to oppress another group they see as less than themselves, there is usually a hierarchical metaphor for God somewhere in their reasoning.) I’m just not sure the good of the metaphor of Christ the King can outweigh the evil that has been done in its name. (Perhaps this is why some theologians have taken to calling Christ our kin, rather than our king, and referring to God’s kindom rather than God’s kingdom.)

Yet on the other hand, the growing secularization that influenced the birth of this feast has only become more pronounced in the past decades. When I think about my own life, I recognize that I need to be continually converted to following Christ and to live out Christ’s mercy, love, acceptance, forgiveness, and justice reign in my actions. All too often I make decisions based on the values of our individualistic and consumer-driven society, and I am especially aware of this as my e-mail and snail mail boxes have been filled to overflowing these past few weeks with enticements to get a jump on my Christmas shopping by enjoying Black Friday deals today. “What great deal can I find for myself? What is the cool new toy my children just have to have? How can I treat my family and myself this holiday season with the gifts I will purchase?” It is easy to get swept up in the drive to buy and the need to snag a deal. In this regard, Pope Paul VI was a visionary to move this feast directly before Advent, as it serves as a reminder that Advent is about waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, not the most important shopping season of the year. Most of us can likely use a strong dose of Christ the King as an antidote to how easy it is to let the logic of our culture rule our lives.

What do you think? In what ways does the Feast of Christ the King leave you cold? In what ways can it challenge you to live a more Christ-centered life as the church year draws to a close?

Gospel Reflection for November 24, Feast of Christ the King

21 Nov

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One belittled Jesus while the second criminal believed.

The second criminal said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus responded, “I assure you this day you will be with me in paradise.”

 Luke 23.42-43

Jesus is no ordinary king. He reigns from the cross, not a throne. He forgives a thief as his final act rather than command an army to his rescue. In this act of forgiveness he completes his mission as the prophet the Spirit anoints to announce a year of God’s favor, a jubilee year.

Whom do you need to forgive? From whom do you need forgiveness?


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Gospel Reflection for November 25, 2012, Feast of Christ the King

19 Nov

Pilate, the Roman governor, summoned Jesus.

Pilate asked, “So, then, are you a king?”
Jesus said, “It is you who say I am a king.  The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth.  Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.”

John 18.7

In his exchange with Pilate, Jesus asks the procurator to make a judgment.  Their dialog about whether Jesus is a king invites Pilate to see and understand who Jesus is.  The see, judge, act process is simple, but Pilate cannot step outside the values of the Roman Empire.
As Christians we can’t help but see Jesus in the least and can’t dodge the work of including the least in our care—in our families, our social circles, and global neighborhood.  We must testify with our lives to the truth of Jesus’ way.  We must turn to one another to help rather than take advantage.

What truths do you hold self-evident?

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Gospel Reflection for November 20, Feast of Christ the King

15 Nov

The just ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you were a stranger and welcome you or naked and give you clothing?  When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
“I assure you, whatever you did for one of these least, you did for me,” the king replies.

Matthew 25.40

Writer Matthew places this Sunday’s parable just before Jesus’ passion in the flow of the gospel narrative.  In his passion Jesus himself becomes the least among us, suffering the kind of execution aimed to shame and subdue rebellious slaves. Sunday’s parable invites us to recognize Jesus in all those who suffer.

Who in your area needs the active mercy of people in your parish or neighborhood?

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