Probably the most common reflection for Catholic Christians on the Solemnity of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING is the real nature of Jesus’ kingship. For citizens of the great US of A, we are quick to rule out that Jesus was President. Indeed, Heavenly Father forbid, that He would have gone through anything like the election process we were recently subjected to. Prime Minister, with apostles and disciples as Lords and members of Parliament—we think not. Or perhaps Jesus could be considered to be like surviving monarchies of the world, private jets and all. Not a chance.
So what kind of king was/is Jesus of Nazareth? To go back to Jesus’ own time, we would best think of tribal societies with the king reigning over connected tribal peoples and their tribal leaders—certainly the 12 tribes of Israel. This would be closer to what some would think of as they gazed upon the sign posted over the head of the crucified one: Jesus Christ, King of the Jews.
On the other hand, there is the meaning given to Jesus’ kingship gleaned from the gospels and today’s readings. St. Paul describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” “all things were created through Him and for Him,” “He is the head of the body of the church,” and “the firstborn of the dead.” Paul goes on to credit Jesus’ “rule” with the power to reconcile all things in Himself, specifically by “making peace by the blood of His cross.” Even before we hear Paul’s words, the first reading from 2 Samuel reminds us that King David was a “shepherd king” and it is from the line of David that the world will receive its Messiah and Savior. No wonder, then, Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Might we not find our proper response to this Feast of Christ the King 2012 in the words and in the demeanor of The Good Thief, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”? This repentant and humbled criminal asks his partner, “Have you no fear of God?” The Good Thief, in a moment of conversion and at the point of his own death, realizes that he desperately needs the kind of king Jesus really is—a king who is a Savior and a Redeemer. It is not a great leap to conclude that the terrorized, traumatized, and war weary world we live in likewise needs the type king that Jesus truly is.
It may be more of a challenge to conclude that each and every one of us needs a forgiving and reconciling king. The taunting of Jesus by “The Bad Thief” basically boils down to: “You’re supposedly The Christ, fix this mess we are in!” Perhaps that is our own response more often than we would like to admit. Let us pray today, with a healthy fear of God, that we might find ourselves praising Our Lord and Savior, Christ the King from the correct side of the cross.