Christ the King

20th November 2016

Throughout most of the history of the Jewish people they developed a grand idea of their kingdom and of an ideal king; they projected this vision back onto king David and consequently a lot of the time looked forward to a new king who would be a true successor to him, or rather to their idea of him. So we read this brief extract of their history, as we celebrate Christ as our own king, with probably a different understanding from them of what the ideal is. David was thought of like a shepherd and as their commander.

In the second reading Paul writes to the Colossians because some of them are seeing this world and material things as evil and to be shunned. He wants to affirm that the Christian truth is that all of creation is God’s, and that creation is the expression of God’s reality. After a powerful reminder how God has delivered them from darkness and redeemed them with forgiveness of their sins, he quotes what almost looks like a creed in poetic form, with two stanzas. The first stanza is about Christ, who is God’s image expressed in each item and in the whole of creation, which exists in Him and for Him; the second is about His presence in the Church as His body, which is made up of those who are conscious of Christ and try to live in a Christ-like way within and together with the sacredness of the material world.

We might find it strange that the gospel reading for today is of Christ on the cross. But His kingship is not a superior and glorious dominance over people, it is a universal kingship, over all and across all time, which is manifest at the climax and completion of His life. Most of those around the cross cannot grasp this notion of kingship nor even accept the idea of life beyond death. The reference to the two other criminals is only found in Luke’s gospel and it is one of the criminals that has the idea of a kingdom after death. The word Paradise is an import from Persian into Greek, Hebrew and now many other languages. This key and distinctive saying of Jesus’ reply to this criminal begins solemnly with “Amen” and expresses the belief , even at this stage, of a life immediately after death gained by Jesus and for others – he says, “Amen. I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise.”

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