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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christ the King

Our Church's liturgical year comes to an end this Sunday with the celebration of the feast of Christ the King. What an unusual title in this era when there are no kings and queens, though there are still plenty of dictators,and others who abuse authority. Let's face it though Christ the President or P{rime Minister just wouldn't cut it.

Actually the word King means Messiah or Anointed one (Cristos in Greek. What we are celebrating is our belief that Jesus is the fulfillment of the messianic promises of God to Israel, yet not in a way that any of us humans would ever have imagined because He is a King who rules by love, who "came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for the many." (Mk, 10,45) The Kingdom that He came to establish is one of love, justice and peace, one where the poor have the Good news preached to them

And so we might ask, "Where is this kingdom?" The easy answer is to say that it is in the future, at the end of time, in the next life. True enough this Kingdom will be brought about in its fullness at the end of time, but it is already here as well. It is here whenever the message of Jesus is lived out, whenever there is forgiveness, whenever the poor and hungry are cared for. One biblical scholar suggests that rather than referring to the "kingdom of God" the texts of the Gospel would be better translated as "the ruling of God," so that we could say that whenever it is apparent that God is ruling over our lives God's kingdom is among us.

This beautiful feast goes back only to 1925, though Christ has been referred to as King from earliest times, including the dialogue with Pilot in this Sunday's Gospel text (Jn 18, 33-37) where Pilate asks Jesus. "Are you the king of the Jews?" the feast was established by Pope Pius XI to make a statement of fascism and communism as well as secularism which wanted to replace Christianity with their own political philosophies. Though many things are different today than they were in 1925 the purpose of this feast is as timely as ever.

Thus the question that we all might ask as we celebrate this feast is "Who, or what, is ruling over my life? On what is my life based? What give meaning to my life?

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