Solemnity of Christ the King
Dn 7:13; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37
Who is this one like a Son of man that the prophet Daniel saw? Is there any figure in human history who fulfilled the prophecy that all peoples, nations, and languages serve him, and his kingship shall not be destroyed? The book of Revelation gives the answer: Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth. He is the faithful witness, because, as he himself says in the Gospel, For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. His rule is the rule of truth; his dominion is a kingdom not like others in this world. He rules over the human heart and conscience, the human will and spirit, and his rule rests upon his faithful witness to the truth.
And not only is Christ’s kingdom a kingdom of truth. That already distinguishes it from so many oppressive tyrannies in the world, which are built on lies, and propped up by supporting lies. But Christ’s kingdom rests not only on truth, but on love and sacrifice. His kingdom is a kingdom of graces given, and we “crown him with many crowns” because he was first crowned with a crown of thorns. His first regal title was written on his Cross, and his kingship flows from the Cross. Christ is the King because he is the sacrifice. Human history knows no other King like that.
And he is ruler of the kings of the earth because, having witnessed and been slain, he has risen as the firstborn of the dead. His resurrection is something like a step halfway between the humiliation of earth and death, and the loftiness of the throne where the Ancient One was sitting. By his resurrection, Christ has climbed to his place at the right hand of God. That is why it is always a Sunday, the day of resurrection, when we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. He is King and ruler by right of truth, and love, and sacrifice and death and resurrection.
And King to what purpose? So that he can send his grace and peace to all who acknowledge him as King. There is peace for the human heart in the knowledge that there is a fellow human being who loves us, now, in the present tense, for Revelation says, To him who loves us. There is a peace that the world cannot give in the knowledge that this same Person has freed us from our sins by his blood, and rules over all the complexities of life, the confused morals of those outside his kingdom, the anxieties of terrorism, and the corruptions of our own nature. Above and beyond all these, our Christ is King; the hands which were nailed to the Cross now wield a scepter, and the One who died for me rules the universe, and rules me.
No ruler in the world can give a peace like that, or ever will. The only peace for the human heart is in the humble, heartfelt recognition that Christ is King. “Crown him with many crowns”: with your reverence, with your loyal obedience, with the constancy of your fidelity. Crown him with your love, the most precious of all the crowns he wears, and you will find true peace, because you will have gone straight to the Source, Christ our King.
Today, then, as tomorrow, for ancient Greeks and modern citizens of the world, for past centuries and for the present, for the future and for the whole world for all time, Jesus Christ is the only faithful witness who testifies to the truth that God is our Father; the only conqueror of death who makes life after death a certainty; the only King who gives life to those who obey him. We all need him. Our hearts have longings which only he can satisfy; our lives have troubles which only he can resolve. Sin and sorrow, change and trial, separation and death are facts in every person’s experience. We can conquer them all if we seek refuge and strength in Christ our King, who died for us, and lives to grant us every possible blessing. From his throne beside the Ancient One, he bends down with hands full of grace; and on his lips are the tender old words which the priest repeats at every Eucharist: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you”.