Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
November 24-25, 2018
Give Faithful Witness to Christ the King!
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
If you haven’t figured out by now, I love history; especially the history of the scriptures and church history. I firmly believe, if we do not know where we have come from, we cannot understand how we got to where we are as a church, society and culture. Take for example this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Why is it important for us to celebrate this title of Jesus Christ? After all, when we think of monarchal titles such as King and Queen, it suggests power and authority; none of which Jesus himself had prior to his passion and death on the cross.
It would be the cross which ultimately would give Jesus the title as King of the Universe. In Jesus’ exchange with Pilate in today’s Gospel from John 18:3337, we hear Pilate ask Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus never denies the title. Let me explain why he does not deny the title and why this title which we share in through our Baptism is so important to understanding our ministerial call. Here is where the scriptural history comes into focus. In the Book of the Prophet Samuel, we hear how the people of Israel want their own King, so that they can be like their neighbors. For them to have their own King, they would have to take away the Kingship from God.
God allowed them to have their own King and the King they chose was Saul. But God told Samuel the Prophet, if Saul goes against my will, I will withdraw my anointing. That ultimately happened, and David was chosen King. But even though God chose the Kings of Israel, they never ruled with justice and mercy.
God promises through the prophets such as Daniel that a King will come in glory for all the peoples and nations, “the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and Kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:1314) So, when Pilate nails the title King of the Jews to the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on, unbeknownst to him, he was proclaiming Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The cross is Jesus’ thrown, this thrown is a throne of service which leads to salvation. St. John the Evangelist proclaims that Jesus is glorified through his suffering and death on the cross. The cross is the sign of glory which proclaims Jesus Christ as King.
The Kingship of Jesus Christ on the cross is given to us in our Baptism. Each of us share in Jesus’ Kingship by laying our lives down on the cross in service to the Kingdom of God. For each of us, like Christ, there is no room for exultation. For the cross calls us to humble service as faithful witness as Christ himself gave in his suffering and death. “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Revelations 1:58) For this reason we are called to give Jesus Christ all glory and honor by our lives. This means every earthly King, Queen, Prince or President is to give glory to Jesus Christ by their service to the people who are entrusted to them. All Popes, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Deacons are to humble themselves on the cross and by doing so accept the service ministry of Jesus Christ the king. As a matter of fact, this service ministry is not limited to those who hold the leadership titles I mentioned above, it includes all the baptized, you and me alike.
When we do not accept our share of the cross, we become like the Israelites who took away the kingship of God and gave it to Saul. We deny Jesus Christ as King of the Universe each time we do not protect life. We deny Jesus Christ as King of the Universe each time we accept injustice toward the poor and the marginalized. We deny Jesus Christ as King of the Universe when we are silent about abuse in our Church or in society. We deny Jesus Christ as King of the Universe each time we allow racism and prejudice to go unanswered.
To proclaim Jesus Christ King of the Universe, we have to become faithful witnesses as Christ himself did and we know where Jesus’ faithful witness led to, the cross. Are you ready to proclaim Jesus Christ King of the Universe? Then give glory to God by embracing the cross and you will truly live out your Baptismal Call to share in the Kingship of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,