Ordinary Time 34, Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C-2010

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
The Lord shall become king over the whole earth (Zech. 14:9—NAB)

As he was entering Jerusalem, Jesus was greeted as a Davidic king, appointed by God to shepherd his people Israel and duly anointed (Mt. 21:1-9; Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:29-38; Jn. 12:12-18). People proclaimed at that time, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Lk. 19:38). Not only did it not matter to the euphoric crowd that Jesus was mounted on a colt and not on a war horse; his coming in such a manner was seen as a sign that he was the humble king prophesied in Zech. 9:9.

But the arriving king was surely expected to bring righteous judgment to enemies and be victorious, for the prophet Zechariah so prophesied as well. Jesus was expected to usher in the appearance of the Lord over the Israelites, his arrow shooting forth as lightning and his trumpet triumphantly blasting (Zech. 9:14). The Lord’s anointed and king, therefore, could not possibly be arrested, tried, and condemned to death. But then because the unthinkable happened, the sign of humility effecting what it signified so that Jesus’ humility did truly mean obedience unto death, even death on a cross (cf. Phil. 2:8), people accordingly got disappointed.

Feeling let down by Jesus, the crowd turned against him. They joined the religious establishment clamoring for his death. They demanded that Pilate release Barabbas, an insurrectionist and a murderer, not Jesus (Lk. 23:18). Their shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” prevailed so that Pilate, feeling he was left without choice, finally caved in and handed Jesus to them to deal with him as they pleased (Lk. 23:23-25).

And there were those rulers who took Jesus for an impostor and sneered at him, saying, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” In like manner, the soldiers jeered at him and called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Even one of the criminals, though subjected to the same condemnation, reviled him and said, in hopeless resignation to fate, perhaps, or, maybe, in hostile denial of guilt and mortality, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.”

Almost everyone, then, made fun of Jesus’ being king. His kingship was so out of the ordinary, so out of the world, it was difficult to recognize at birth (cf. Mt. 2:2) and, obviously, at death. The irony in the sign on the cross that read, “This is the King of the Jews,” was not lost on hardly anyone. The really important irony, however, which almost everyone had no clue on even, was that Jesus saved himself and others precisely by losing his life and giving it as a ransom for many (cf. Mt. 10:39; 20:28; Mk. 8:35; 10:45; Lk. 17:33; Jn. 12:25). Ironically, by accepting the way of the cross, saving was exactly what Jesus was doing [1]. The sign of death becomes the sign of life: lifted up, Jesus is revealed as divine, none other than the image of the invisible God too, and as the saving and forgiving king who draws everybody to himself (Jn. 3:14-15; 8:28; 12:32-33).

And Jesus does not only seek forgiveness and find excuse for the guilty (Lk. 23:34). He himself, moreover, solemnly and unconditionally promises entry into Paradise to all those who, like the other criminal also hanging next to him, do not despair of their helplessness, poverty and sinfulness but call confidently on him, recognizing his kingship on the cross and perceiving and condemning also the injustice done to the innocent. Jesus will welcome to his kingdom those who honestly admit their helplessness and confess both affectively and effectively that he died at the appointed time for the ungodly, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, whose identity he bore (Rom. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 8:9; Mt. 25:34-40).

In his kingdom, which spells deliverance from darkness and redemption from sin, Jesus, needless to say, will dress himself to serve his servants, those who, ever vigilant, see—as did St. Vincent de Paul and the many others who have been made fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light—what they have not been told and understand what they have not heard; he will have them recline at table, and will proceed to wait on them (Lk. 12:37; cf. Is. 52:15)

In the kingdom of the Father’s beloved Son, is effected, then, in the fullest sense, for sure, what is signified in the Holy Eucharist.


NOTE:

[1] Cf. http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Trial-Death-Jesus (accessed November 20, 2010).