Solemnity of ‘Christ the King’: Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“A Kingdom That Is Not Of This World.”
Today, all the readings speak of the ‘Kingdom of God’ and of Christ.
The first and the second readings tell us that the ‘Kingdom of God’ will begin at the time all other earthly kingdoms begin to disappear; these worldly kingdoms that for so long were the masters and rulers of humanity. As the ‘Kingdom of God’ grows and develops, it will face many difficulties and opposition.
The Gospel tells us very clearly what the ‘Kingdom of Christ’ is like. The word ‘Kingdom’ is understood differently by humans and by Christ: people see it as power, glory and triumph; for Christ it is acceptance of service.
Jesus is the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. When we become one in Jesus, we possess this Truth and the power of Love, and are assured of gaining victory over evil. By God’s grace we may inherit eternal life to be in the presence of our Lord.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
Our reading begins by saying that Daniel, in a dramatic night vision, sees four large beasts coming out of the sea (the symbol of disorder): a lion, a bear, a leopard and, finally, a fourth frightening, terrible and exceptionally strong beast that grinds and crushes everything with its iron teeth. What do these beasts represent? It is the author himself who tells us: they are the great kingdoms of the world that have in succession oppressed the people of God.
The lion is Babylon, the bloody city; the bear and the leopard represent other conquering nations (Medes and the Persians). The fourth beast, the worst of them all, is the kingdom of Alexander the Great and his successors and, among these particularly, the wicked king Antiochus, the persecutor of Jews who were faithful to their God. He is the unrighteous king at the time that this book of Daniel was written.
The seer describes another grand scene: he sees thrones being prepared in heaven, and an ‘Old Man’ (indicating God), takes up his place to judge. Here is the verdict and the punishment: all beasts are deprived of their power, and the last one is killed, destroyed and thrown into the fire.
Daniel continues his revelation: “I was gazing into the vision of the night, when I saw coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were, a son of man.” It is to him that the ‘Old Man’ (God), entrusts the power, the glory and the Kingdom. It is difficult to read this passage of Daniel as Christians, and not to think of Jesus. Jesus used the title “Son of Man” to refer to himself, and the image of Christ’s triumphant reign in the kingdom of God. It is very similar to Daniel’s description, yet Daniel did not anticipate a messiah in his use of the term. What he intended was an image of the redeemed people of Israel, coming into God’s presence, in a glorified and worthy form.
The book of Daniel doesn’t go on to say much more about the person, but it is clear that he is a heavenly figure, who represents a supernatural power, that is supporting the persecuted Jews of the second century B.C. His presence in the heavenly court is meant to teach that God’s dominion, will overcome every earthly power. The coming of this ‘Son of Man’, symbolizes the ultimate and final establishment of the ‘Kingdom of God’.
When Jesus adopts the term, he points to the fulfilment of the prophecy in the direction of his own actions. It is Jesus, who receives dominion from the ‘Ancient One’, and it is in his ‘Kingdom’, that we find our heaven, our loving and perfect world. We may not be favoured with visions in the night, as the writer of Daniel was, but we can trust in the vision of the ‘Kingdom’ as Jesus proclaimed it.
Psalm 93:1-2, 5.
The Psalm traditionally presents God ascending his throne after he has created the world. It is one of a group that reminds Israel, that God was their true ‘King’. It is the reality of his reign that Jesus came to proclaim to all humanity.
Like Daniel, Revelation was written to help the faithful in crises. Its author expected the emperor Domitian would soon insist that all in his empire should worship him as a god, an impossible demand for Christians.
To prepare them for this testing the author gives Christ three memorial titles. First, he is a faithful witness (Jn.18:37), an example for those ‘soon to witness their faith’. Second, he is the ‘first born’ from the dead, a reminder that those who have to give their lives, would follow in the Resurrection. Thirdly, he is ruler of the kings of the earth. Powerful though earthly tyrants may seem, Jesus himself, was their real ruler (Jn.18:37). Like the ‘Son of Man’, he would come on the clouds (Dn.7:13) when he would find those sharing in his priesthood and kingship, awaiting him.
Jesus has been delivered to the Roman authorities; he is alone, helpless; he has no soldiers to defend him. He is a prisoner abandoned also by his own friends, beaten up and mocked; he certainly cannot be a threat to Rome. Pilate’s question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” might indicate that he thought Jesus was one of the Zealots, who tried by force to evict the Romans and install their own rulers. Others thought that the Messiah would revive the dynasty of David. All this was sufficient enough to make Pilate want to know more about Jesus.
At the beginning of his public life Jesus is tempted in the desert. One of the temptations is to exercise power and authority over the kingdoms of this world. This is not the ‘way’ of Jesus. He resists the authority of domination and the power that exults in itself. His route is along the path of worldly powerlessness. Jesus tells his followers: “Among the pagans it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them, are given the title ‘Benefactor’. With you this must not happen” (Lk. 22:25f).
Jesus knows he is a ‘King’, but at the same time he enlarges on Pilate’s question. He is not a king of this world who would be a threat to the Romans. His ‘Kingship’ is of a different kind. It concerns the Jews certainly, but goes beyond them to include all others. It works in a different way from what both Pilate and the Jews associate with kingship. It is not primarily of this world, though it has influence in this world, since it calls upon the people of this world to listen to the voice of the ‘Truth’.
The divine right to rule has been given to the Son, who was entirely faithful to the One who sent him. Sovereignty, complete power over all, is in possession of the Lord of love. Jesus defines his Kingship before Pilate as a commitment to the Truth. The borders of his territory are known in our ‘willingness to witness’.
The Kingship of Jesus is fundamentally a ‘Witness to the Truth’, that can transform the lives of people if only they would listen and be guided by it. Jesus has spoken of himself as the Truth, the Way and the Life (Jn. 14:6). This Truth sets people free from the oppression of sin. The Kingdom of Jesus, therefore, is one opposed to falsehood and injustice. Such a Kingdom cannot be set up by force. Each is called to listen to the voice of Truth and to decide freely on which side of it to stand. Today we acknowledge the Kingship of Christ. He rules not by fear but by gratuitous love for all. He forces himself on no one. For those of us who accept his offer of ‘life and grace’, he is the ‘Good Shepherd’, who cares for us, watches over us, and bestows upon us graces and power that no one else can give.
Jesus thus gives us a deep insight into what real power is all about. He makes it clear that the highest power is not physical or legalistic. The highest power is the power of ‘Truth”. Real power is knowing and living the truth about human life. This is exactly what Jesus taught us.
What we do know is that Jesus’ unfailing ‘Witness to the Truth’ marks his true Kingship. As his subjects, we will be judged on how we have witnessed to his truth, his love and his way. For a place in his ‘Kingdom’, we will be questioned on our own attitudes and behaviour. We don’t have to wait for the ‘Last Judgement’ to find out the questions we will be asked. When it comes to places in his Kingdom, the interviews are already taking place. Here and now. Do we realise that each day we are living out our true desires and are making our choices as to where we wish to spend eternity. God does not judge us; he merely ratifies the choices we make.
In Jesus, then we can all possess this truth and this power; by possessing it in him, we are assured of gaining victory over evil and inheriting eternal life. In the words of Revelation, we can say: “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
If Christ is your King, his values and teaching must be supreme in your life. Are they? By our actions and love for our neighbour, do we show we belong to this Kingdom? What can we do to prove that we accept Christ as our King?
The central truth of the ‘Kingdom of God’ is love: first God’s love for us and then our love for God, manifested ‘in our love for others’, especially the poor and the oppressed.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the Feast of Christ the King, Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … The ‘Four Beasts’ from the sea in the Book of Daniel, are universally identified with the powers that oppressed Israel in the past. What ‘Beasts’ (idols and temptations) are oppressing us as we travel on the difficult and narrow paths on our ‘Faith’s Journey’?
Mon. … In today’s world many of us are still being oppressed by ‘Beasts’ that lead us to slavery in which we serve masters of: vice, pride, envy, sloth, lust, greed and anger. Anyone who is growing in faith will experience periods of ‘spiritual darkness’. It is in this ‘darkness’ that we will experience our weaknesses and feelings of helplessness, and we will come to know how much we really depend on God. In this ‘darkness’, we cry out to God in desperation from the depth of our hearts to help us. Let us pray today for the virtues of Christ that will eliminate these vices that lead us to the ‘slavery of sin’.
Tues. … In times of trial and tribulation in our ‘spiritual darkness’, there is a light that can break us away from our self-will and detach us from all the ‘ idols’ we cling to, so that we may become ready to do what God wants, rather than what we want. “Spiritual Darkness’ is a time of purification and growth. Let us open up our hearts to the Light of Christ.
Wed. … We as Christians, will need to bear ‘Witness to the Truth’, if we are to follow Jesus in the ‘Resurrection’ to a new life. We need to give stronger witness to the Lord’s ‘compassion and love’ to others. We need to take heed of the saying, “When love retreats, the powers of darkness’ advance”. Love has the power to conquer all.
Thur. … As the ‘Passion of Christ’ gets underway, Jesus has to witness his own truth. He remains faithful in his trust of the Father, in spite of all his pain and the constant ‘jeering’ of his accusers and the ‘silence’ of his absent friends, and those whom he had saved. Jesus may have wondered where all ‘the Witnesses to the Truth’ had gone? Jesus may still wonder today where his witnesses are when the world overwhelms us with its new standards of social ‘freedom’, such as abortion rights and false marriages. Do we too become ‘silent to the truth when we stand-alone or are outnumbered, or can we bear the jeering or suffering in Jesus’ name? Jesus was not condemned by the power of wicked people; he was condemned because of the silence of good people.
Frid. … In the end ‘Truth’ will triumph, for all will be revealed in the light of God’s judgment. The best we can prepare is to love and live each day as Jesus did, in the Light of the Truth.
Sat. …We have been given our ‘King’ but the Kingdom is not yet complete. That is why we are told by Jesus to pray to the Father: ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
God our Father, You break the power of evil and make all things new. Today we salute Your Son Jesus, as our King. May the world praise You and acknowledge Your glory. We pray for a world of truth and love, of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice and peace, a world in which all people will carry out Your will. We pray for a place where Jesus will reign in the human heart; a place where all will imitate His loving virtues. We pray for the graces to become true ‘Witnesses to the Truth’ even if we should stand-alone. May we realise that Christ will always be with us when we fall down.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.