Tag Archives: Christ the King

What kind of king?

Meditating this morning on the feast of Christ the King, one question ran through my mind: “What kind of king is Jesus?”

The kings of this world rule by power, domination, and violence, with soldiers and weapons of war. They want their enemies to suffer – death or defeat. They thrive on vengeance. They are arrogant. They want their followers to serve them, to acquiesce to today idea or demand – to whatever Twitter they send out. They are arrogant and think they know it all and are the best in everything. Their thrones are of precious woods or of gold. Some even have gold toilets.

Our king, Jesus, rules from the wood of the cross. He suffers the violence of the powerful and is the brunt of violence and of mocking. But he is at the side of those who are cast aside, the marginalized, the wretched of the earth – and suffers with them. He pardons his enemies and even those who put him to death, putting an end to violence. He serves others, washing their feet. He hears the cry of the poor and even of the good thief. He has no weapons but love, tenderness, mercy, and forgiveness. He is humble and puts himself with those at the bottom of society.

DSCN4910As Saint Paul wrote to the Colossians (1: 13-14), “He delivered us from the power of dark­ness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Do we really want king Jesus – or do we want the kings of this world?


A powerless king

Today’s celebration of Christ the King is an anomaly in many ways.

The United States arose throwing off a king and the kings that remain in the west are mostly ceremonial. But the image of the king, the ruler, remains strong in our societies.

We want powerful rulers who will keep us safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic. We want absolute security in our houses and our streets, even if it means prisons that are overcrowded. We want our leaders who exude power.

I’m not primarily writing about the US.

Today is election day in Honduras. The president, congress, and all the mayors will be elected today.

In the campaign one candidate, who promotes the militarization of the police, is promising that he will do whatever needs to be done for security.

Another candidate is viewed by some of her supporters as the only solution for the country.

Another runs on a campaign against corruption but some say his campaign has been less than transparent financially.

Another appeals to the loyalty of his party members.

All, in one way or another, are taken in by the notion that power means domination. Power as service – or self-giving – is foreign to many of them.

But what is Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel, Luke 23:35-43?

The leaders and one of those crucified with him mock him and urge him to save himself.

But the mission of Jesus is not to save himself, but to give himself, to hand himself over – out of love.

How many of those who lead see their role as giving themselves for others? not as a “savior,”  but as a servant?

How many of us are willing to give ourselves – not to dominate, but to serve?

How many of us really want a savior who is powerless, who is crucified, who is despised?

That is the real choice today – not who will be the president or mayor or congressperson.

And that choice comes because we choose – and let ourselves be chosen – the One who “makes peace by the blood of the Cross” (Colossians 1:20).


A different kind of King

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he said firmly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18: 36)

This doesn’t mean that his kingdom has nothing to do with the world. The whole message of Jesus was the transformation of the world in light of that Kingdom.

It is, as the late Father John Kavanaugh, S.J., wrote in the Word Encountered,

It is a kingdom not fought for with old means of warfare. Rather, it testifies to truth. It will not kill for truth, it will die for it. If Jesus is king, he will be a suffering king. He will not demand ransom. He will be ransom. He will win, not by spilling the blood of others, but by offering up his own.

This means a life of transformation, of conversion, of continually seeking the Kingdom of God.

It means a church that does not seek its own rights, but seeks to wash the feet of all and to serve the least of the world.

I worry about a church that seeks power and privilege, that wraps itself in incense and fancy garments, that proclaims grand campaigns for its own religious liberty but that does not bow down to wash the feet of the poor.

And I worry about myself, when I want to be recognized – rather than recognizing Jesus in those I work with.

The Kingdom of God is here – and is not yet fulfilled. I see signs of it in the poor I work with here in Honduras and in the people who serve others throughout the world, in nursing homes, in soup kitchens, and in the midst of their families.

Would that the signs of the Kingdom would be clearer.

But I think that means willing to make ourselves the servants of others – as Christ did.