Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus, Christ the King! But what is the point of calling Christ “the king”? After all, we gave up on kings a long time ago. In America we fought a revolution to get rid of kings. It can seem an antiquated image. But did you know that the feast itself was instituted less than a hundred years ago? Pope Pius XI formalized it in 1925. With the rise of secularism, nationalism, and global strife, he sought to remind us that Christ is the true sovereign of all. It is in Christ that peace shall reign. Certainly we need that reminder today! It would be an understatement to say we live in “divided times.” Warring political philosophies, economic upheaval, and shifting global climates are signs that not all is right with the world. Taken up with anxiety and fear, we are often tempted to blame others or fall prey to ideology. It is only in trusting the one who has made us that we can ever hope to overcome such conflict. Christ has taken everything into himself and sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. It is in such divine love that all will be healed. It is by such love that God will reign in Christ. So, perhaps we DO need a King! The kingship of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior needs to be invited and accepted in our lives and world! Let’s pray for that as the feast of Christ the King brings our liturgical year to an end.
Next weekend, the First Sunday of Advent, begins a new year in the liturgical calendar of the church. The scripture readings for Sunday Mass are arranged in a three-year cycle. Year A we hear primarily from the Gospel of Matthew. Year B Mark’s gospel, and Year C Luke’s gospel. During the Easter season every year we hear primarily from John’s Gospel. The weekday Mass readings are arranged in a two-year cycle. So, on December 1st & 2nd this year, the First Sunday of Advent, we start cycle C, primarily Luke’s gospel. The weekday readings will be year 1.
So, what might we expect to learn about Jesus and his mission from Luke’s telling of the story? First, in his account of the birth of Jesus, he places the event squarely into the flow of history: Caesar Augustus was the emperor and Quirinius the governor. At a particular time and place God’s Son comes into the world and into history to redeem the earth and all of the people in it. However, this understanding of Jesus and his mission was at odds with another, extremely popular understanding of Jesus in some of the ancient Churches. These Churches understood Jesus to be a divine, not human, revealer who suddenly appeared in the world as an adult in order to teach people the means by which they might escape from the world to a higher, more heavenly existence. Those who understood Jesus’ teaching in this way would claim that this world was not worth saving and that only the heavenly or spiritual world mattered. These Christians joined sectarian groups that would set themselves apart from the concerns of this world and their fellow Christians. Thus, when Luke tells the story of Jesus being born as a baby in a manger in a particular place and time, he has in mind both the full humanity of Jesus and the face that Jesus will care about, and ultimately redeem creation and all the people in it. Oops! I’ve run out of space, so more about Luke’s theology in future articles!
Have a Blessed Week!