A Reflection for Christ the King (Year B).
Daniel 7:13-14 – Apocalypse 1:5-8 – John 18:33-37.
Dear brothers and sisters, Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and theologian, wrote a story entitled “The King and the Maiden”. It tells of a massively powerful king who fell head-over-heels in love with a beautiful but humble young lady. What the king wanted most of all was to be loved by her. He was so powerful that in theory he could do whatever he wanted. In practice, his kingship constrained him. It was customary for Kings to marry royalty. So, how could he go about declaring his love for her, a mere commoner, and be confident that their love for each other really was genuine and mutually exclusive? If he gave orders for her to be brought to the palace, to be dressed in designer clothing and crowned with precious jewels, she was hardly going to resist! But the problem that gnawed at him was whether her love for him under such circumstances would be genuine, lasting and heartfelt.
Under that kind of pressure, of course she would articulate that she loved him, but would she really mean it? He had so many questions… Would she just say she did because of what he might do to her and her family if she turned him down? He was so powerful! If she did love him, would she be faithful to him, and would she be genuinely happy to spend the rest of her life with him? If he couldn’t be sure that she would be happy, then their relationship wouldn’t flourish. Would the status gap between them be too great for his love to be reciprocated? Would it be a permanent barrier between them? He wanted so much for her to set aside the fact that he was a powerful king and she a humble maiden, and to let their love for each other bridge the gulf between them.
Kierkegaard’s punchline was that “It is only in love that the unequal can be made equal”. To illustrate this, he wrote that the king decided to come down to her level rather than to raise her to his heights. He wanted her to make a free choice as to whether or not she would love him as much as he already loved her. She was a humble maiden, and so he humbled himself. He dispensed with his kingly apparel and presented himself to her as an ordinary man in the street. Then, with his heart full, as one human being to another, he professed his profound love for her. For the sake of that burning love, the king descended from his throne. For the sake of overwhelming love for her, he took the risk of going to her himself, not knowing whether his expression of love would be welcomed or backfire, whether he himself would be accepted or rejected.
Kierkegaard didn’t tell us how the story ended, because ‘how it ended’ was not the point he was trying to put across. The point of the story was the King’s deeply devoted love for the humble maiden, such that he was prepared to come down from his throne. The story is a parable about the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose overwhelming love for us moved Him come into the world (Jn 3:16). St Paul tells us more: Though he was in the form of God, he (Jesus) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:6ff).
Today, we celebrate Our Lord Jesus Christ The Universal King. We assert that Jesus is infinitely greater than any earthly king, head of state or government, past, present and future, because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16 cf. 17:14; 1Tim 6:15). The world did not recognize him (Jn 1:11f) – but we do, and we share in his glory (Rom 8:17).
Today’s word of God describes Jesus’ kingship as an eternal and indestructible kingship. Jesus is the everlasting King and, since His reign lasts forever (1Chron 29:10f cf. Dan 4:3), He is the Lord and King of the living and the dead (Rom 14:9). In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes His Kingship as a spiritual one.
Christ rules in truth and love. He is the King of Truth. He told Pilate that I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth (v.37). He is out to touch the hearts and minds of all people and to claim their souls for God the Father with the truth of His love. His mission on earth is to announce the Good News. What is the Good News? The “Good News” is the “God News” that God loves us completely and devotedly (as did the king in Kierkegaard’s story), counts us as family, regards us as His children, and seeks our love and allegiance.
How do we, as the people of the King of truth, respond to Him in love to allow His kingdom to flourish in our hearts and in our community? By the way we live and by declaring publicly where our loyalties lie. Christ tells us to respond to Him in love and service of our neighbour, to love and forgive our neighbour, and to live in solidarity with the poor. His own life is the model for us.
In this world so full of lies, injustice, inequality, violence, disregard for human life, suffering and pain, let each one of us play our part in ushering in the reign of Christ. Let us proclaim Christ the Universal King by living lives hallmarked with honesty, justice, equity, equality. peace, and defence of the dignity of human life, bringing healing and relief to the physically and spiritually infirm. Today we pray for the governments of the world, for the leaders of the Church, and for all of God’s people that we may endorse in every way the reality that Jesus Christ is the Universal King. God bless you.