November 22, 2015: Christ the King Sunday
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
At the beginning of its history, the people of Israel are unlike other peoples in that they have no king, for they recognize the dominion of Yahweh alone. It is God who intervenes on Israel’s behalf through charismatic individuals, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The people approach the last of these individuals, Samuel, prophet and judge, to ask for a king (cf. 1 Sam 8:5; 10:18-19). Samuel warns the Israelites about the consequences of a despotic exercise of kingship (cf. 1 Sam 8:11-18). However, the authority of the king can also be experienced as a gift of Yahweh who comes to the assistance of his people (cf. 1 Sam 9:16). In the end, Saul is anointed king (cf. 1 Sam 10:1-2). These events show the tension that brought Israel to understand kingship in a different way than it was understood by neighbouring peoples. The king, chosen by Yahweh (cf. Dt 17:15; 1 Sam 9:16) and consecrated by him (cf. 1 Sam 16:12-13), is seen as God’s son (cf. Ps 2:7) and is to make God’s dominion and plan of salvation visible (cf. Ps 72). The king, then, is to be the defender of the weak and the guarantor of justice for the people. The denunciations of the prophets focus precisely on the kings’ failure to fulfil these functions (cf. 1 Kg 21; Is 10:1-4; Am 2:6-8, 8:4-8; Mic 3:1-4). (377)
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
Jesus refuses the oppressive and despotic power wielded by the rulers of the nations (cf.Mk 10:42) and rejects their pretension in having themselves called benefactors (cf. Lk22:25), but he does not directly oppose the authorities of his time. In his pronouncement on the paying of taxes to Caesar (cf. Mk 12:13-17; Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26), he affirms that we must give to God what is God’s, implicitly condemning every attempt at making temporal power divine or absolute: God alone can demand everything from man. At the same time, temporal power has the right to its due: Jesus does not consider it unjust to pay taxes to Caesar.
Jesus, the promised Messiah, fought against and overcame the temptation of a political messianism, characterized by the subjection of the nations (cf. Mt 4:8-11; Lk 4:5-8). He is the Son of Man who came “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk 10:45; cf. Mt 20:24-28: Lk 22:24-27). As his disciples are discussing with one another who is the greatest, Jesus teaches them that they must make themselves least and the servants of all (cf. Mk 9:33- 35), showing to the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who wish to sit at His right hand, the path of the cross (cf.Mk 10:35-40; Mt 20:20-23). (379) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm: 93:1, 1-2, 5
Second Reading: Revelation 1:5-8
Gospel: John 18:33b-37
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover. Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God. “That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Maranatha! “Our Lord, come!” (671)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Christ the King Sunday, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: no references this week
Whom does our society crown as king? Athletes playing childhood games before thousands, muscles toned, competition, superiority the focus. Pop culture musicians’ lyrics entrenched in cultural whims, role models of excess. Warriors seeking violent solutions, snuffing out life of hope, reconciliation, healing. Consumerism of the best, newest, coolest that will only rust, rot or break, while further separating the haves and have-nots by an ocean of excess. Collaborators of greed amassing obscene sums of money in a day, while others struggle, maybe working two jobs, just to survive.
We have forgotten to publically articulate, let our faith proclaim as the voice of reason, the precise definition of a true king, so wandering jets us into fantasyland of escapism and sensationalism. Our king modeled the role of a servant for the good of humanity. Not political plundering, gamesmanship, but an aura of service first, looking to the disenfranchised not the elite society. Awarded a crown by surrendering to the will of the Father, He testified to the truth. A kingdom never destroyed, never marred by news leaks, losing a game or eclipsed by another rising star. Enthroned in the Alpha and Omega, the one who is, who was and who is to come, never absent from our past, present or future. A king relevant to the complete, unfolding spectrum of time, through a holistic embrace of creation, humanity and the infiniteness of eternity. Non-quantifiable, totally experiential in our pause to let the Divine reality nudge our finite vision, knowing worldly charades produce no impediments to Christ. Our king testifies to the truth and we can only listen to His voice.
Individual Reflection: Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5
Advent is a season of waiting. How will you step aside from the busyness and become more astute at waiting?
Family Reflection John 18:33b-37
Discuss what idols you have made kings in your lives. How during the upcoming Advent season do you need to focus on Christ as your king? How are kings in our society a justice issue in the context of faith?
Make yourself a gift of a sacred prayer space in your home. A place of symbols to remind you Christ is your king and you listen to His voice.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, November 7, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.