Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year C
2 Samuel 5:1-3
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 (see 1)
November 24, 2019
Today we begin the last week in Ordinary Time before we start a new liturgical year next week. To mark this point in the year, we celebrate this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
It is a solemnity that calls us to reflect on who Jesus is. We call him “king” but what does that mean? And why do we call him not just “king” but “king of the universe”?
I’ll address the second question first. Why “universe”?
When one speaks of earthly kings, or in our case elected government officials, we speak of kings who are in charge/represent a finite geographic region. For kings, it would be a “country” but there are also villages, towns, counties, and states with elected officials in our country.
No matter what size region they serve, the area they serve is finite.
That is not the case with Jesus. God’s Kingdom is in Heaven but really it is everywhere. Writing to the Colossians, Paul uses the word “all” eight times to stress how all things belong to Christ. It is “in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell and through him” all things are reconciled. As king over all, Jesus is the King of the Universe.
Even our prayers today carry this theme. Our opening prayer (Collect) and the Prayer after Communion refer to Jesus as “King of the universe”. The Prayer over the Offerings speaks of “all nations”.
Again, Jesus is king of all. Now, what does it mean to call him “king”?
For the Jews, David was the great king. There were many kings after him but he was the greatest. He was anointed king first as chosen by God and then acclaimed by the people.
As a good king, he was not just an administrative leader. He was a “shepherd” to the people.
Jesus is acclaimed as king but He was not the type of king the Jews were expecting. They expected a great earthly king like David to set them free from the Romans. He did not do that.
Because He was called a king but did not win earthly battles, He was “sneered” by the rulers and “jeered” by the soldiers on the Cross. They mocked him saying, “He saved others, let him save himself…save yourself.”
In mocking him, they even hung a sign over him on the Cross ‘that read “This is the King of the Jews.”’ When you see a Crucifix with the letters “INRI” above Jesus, this is the scripture passage it points to. The letters “INRI” represent the Latin words for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
For a solemnity honoring Jesus as king, one might expect a passage from the Bible that displays Jesus as a glorious king. Yet, in today’s Gospel we hear of his Crucifixion. To non-believers, this would hardly be glorious.
For us who believe, it points to what Jesus does for us as our king. He dies for our sins.
Some people recognize Jesus for who He is. Some don’t. We see this in the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus. One joins the others who mock him. The other does not.
In fact the second criminal first admits his own sins, saying, “we have been condemned justly” but recognizes Jesus’ innocence as having “done nothing criminal.”
It is also this criminal who recognizes that the heart of Jesus’ kingdom lies beyond this world with his words, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” It is also a plea for mercy.
Jesus is the one who delivers “us from the power of darkness” and transfers us to the true kingdom. He is the one who “created all things in heaven and earth, the visible and invisible.”
What is the kingdom of God like? Our Preface for this solemnity that comes at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer describes speaks of it as “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
Jesus wants us to be in his kingdom. That why He dies for us on the Cross. Jesus does not come to have us serve his needs. How could we ever do that? He comes to serve our needs.
Knowing this, knowing his love for us, we can trust in what He teaches us. Because of his love, we should be willing to obey his commands.
We should make time for him. Christmas is coming. Can you give a little time to Jesus? Can you make one extra hour for him?
Of course, in our humanity, we can be weak. We sin. Jesus died so that our sins might be forgiven. We have the Sacrament of Reconciliation for this. You will find in today’s bulletin an insert listing both the regular times for confession during Advent and some extra times we are making available. I encourage you to examine your conscience. If you find you have sinned, confess your sins to embrace the gift of God’s forgiveness.
The second criminal admitted his sins to Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him. What was Jesus’ response?
“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
For help on how to confess your sins check out – http://www.renewaloffaith.org/reconciliation.html