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November 20, 2022: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Pastor’s Corner

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  Marking the end of the liturgical year, Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 as a way of highlighting God’s ultimate sovereignty over all creation in the person of Jesus Christ.  Since our own St. Dominic’s Church was mid construction when this feast was newly established, the Dominicans were inspired to commission a remarkable statue of Christ the King.  Displayed in its prominent and familiar place in harmonious juxtaposition with the ambo, the statue of Christ the King is a reminder to us all that, in order for us to be part of God’s Kingdom, Christ must reign in our hearts.

Jesus’ sovereignty is unique.  In order to understand this, we recall that, in the Old Testament, the kingship arose as a rejection of God’s appointed judges and prophets.  After Israel enters the promised land, they want to be politically structured like other nations by establishing an anointed king.  God takes this as a rejection of himself.   He warns that creating a king is not a brilliant idea, since such a concentration of power often corrupts.  Kings will seek service. They will divide families to produce armies.  They will not always be reasonable. Kings fail.  Yet when the people insist, God allows for Saul to be anointed king.  When Saul’s reign founders almost immediately, God initiates a new plan for salvation which we discover in today’s first reading.  First, we see how God raises up a shepherd named David to be King.  Next, God promises David that, from his progeny, he will send a future “Anointed One” who will establish an eternal kingdom.  The Hebrew word Messiah and its Greek equivalent Christos mean Anointed One. Finally, God fulfills this promise in the person of Jesus, who is the Christ, the Anointed Messiah. (Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but a title referring to his kingship!)  

But this kingship is surprising.  In the Gospel this weekend, we see that Jesus’ kingship is activated by the cross, for Christ’s willingness to give his life as a ransom for many is the reason he reigns. Put simply: He reigns because He obeys.  The nature of Christ’s kingship does not flow from His divinity. He is not King because He is God.  Jesus is king because He obeys His Father’s will. In the Garden of sorrow and temptation, Jesus prays for the cup of suffering and death to pass by but concludes by saying “not my will, but Thy will be done.” Christ’s obedience to His Father to give his life in love for us is the source of Christ’s authority to rule.  The obedience of his humanity is the source of His ability to save.  His first edict as King of the Universe is to extend a royal pardon to the Good Thief who recognizes His sovereignty and asks for clemency: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”  By identifying himself as King on the cross, Jesus reveals that his reign is centered in obedience.  To be part of Christ’s kingdom, we are called to this same obedience.  No matter our vocation, we have opportunities to discover God’s will in our life.  When we do this, Christ reigns in our lives.  When we take time to listen to God in prayer, Christ reigns.  When we let go of control for our will to be done, Christ reigns. When we seek to carry the crosses of our life with sacrificial love, Christ reigns.  Reign in our hearts, Christ the King!

~Fr. Michael

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