The solemnity of Christ the King marks the last Sunday of the liturgical year. This solemnity helps us to celebrate both the coming of Christ, at the end of time, and prepares us for the season of Advent, which begins next Sunday. This feast of Christ the King calls us to ponder Jesus in a slightly different way, we are called to think about his royalty and divinity. This Sunday also calls us to ponder Christ as the victorious King, for in the end, “he will come to judge the living and the dead”. This well-worn phrase from the Creed is also intrinsically linked to the Kingship of Christ.
At this period of the liturgical year, it is good to meditate on what is our understanding of a King, the role that a King might play, and if our idea is the same as the Kingship that is exercised by Christ. In our day and age monarchy and their influence in our world is certainly diminishing. Many people might think that a monarch is just type of civil servant, who has inherited the public role that they play. The example that we are most familiar with is the British Royal family, and our experience of how they live is certainly different from what previous monarchies looked like and is not even close to what a “Davidic King” is like. The British monarch is the head of state but does not have the authority to rule, whereas Christ the King has been given absolute authority. We also see monarchs interceding for people, usually this takes the form of them having a set number of charities and organisations that they promote and help in the fundraising efforts. They intercede through influence and not through their own power and authority. However, Christ is our only mediator with the Father, and he is not reliant on any secondary source in order to mediate on behalf of us, Christ has the authority, influence and dominion. In the past a monarch would also act as a judge, adjudicating on matters of state and certain domestic disputes. In contrast the royals of today are no longer part of the legal system by birth right, yet Christ is our King and Judge by his birth right. Christ is always taking our petitions, our prayers and responding to them in a much more timely way than any earth bound ruler could.
The above description of Kingship does appear quite serious and even a little dry and functional, but this is only a small aspect of Christ’s Kingship. Kings have servants, but Christ doesn’t call us servants any longer, but calls us his friends (Jn 15:15). We have a very influential friend, not someone with some or a little bit of power or influence, but a friend with absolute power and authority, a friend who only wants the best for us. When we meet people with power or influence, we sometimes only think of their office, and forget that they are a person too. Christ the King is our friend and a friend that cares more about us than we could ever comprehend. It is a comforting thought to know that we have a God who has a profound care for us, and this is why we should lean on that friendship, both in the good times, sharing our successes and thanking him for his assistance. In the bad times, taking our troubles to him, placing all our burdens before him so that our load becomes easy to bear and our burden becomes light. At the end of the liturgical year Christ comes to remind us that he has all power and has won the victory, and this victory was so that his friends might be able to share in his reward, and the most beautiful part about this is that Christ numbers you as one of his friends.
Fr Tony King-Archer