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Christ the King of the Universe

The last Sunday of the liturgical year is the Feast of Christ the King — or more properly, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. If we ponder this feast and its readings, we find that we are speaking of one who is not a ruler like other rulers.

In the Gospel reading for this year, the King is identified with the “least” — the poor, the stranger, the ill, the prisoner (Matthew 25:31-46):

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me'" (Matthew 25: 35-36).

We learn that “whatever you did for one of the least,” we have done for Jesus (25:40).

In the gospel for Year B, where Pilate is questioning Jesus, it turns out that one sign that this reign is different from a worldly dominion is the absence of violence, even violence in defense of the Christ (John 18:33b-37). 

And in Year C, we hear the rulers and soldiers sneering at Jesus on the cross, while above him a mocking sign proclaims, "This is the King of the Jews." Even one of the criminals crucified along with Jesus seems to be jeering. The other, however, begs, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And we hear Jesus welcoming him, saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:35-43).

So this is a King identified with the poor, the oppressed, even the condemned, a King whose reign is marked by welcome and love, resurrection and healing. This is a king who, wonder of wonders, does not look down his nose on us from his royal throne, but calls us to share his own life.

__________

See also:
- Endings
- Peaceable Kingdom

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