November 24, 2013 — Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Traditionally, the Solemnity which we celebrate this weekend was called Christ the King, but it is officially the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. It was originally established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and he placed it on the last Sunday in October, just prior to the Feast of All Saints. In 1969 Pope Paul VI moved the Feast to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time and retitled it from Our Lord Jesus Christ the King to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The reasoning was that recognizing Christ as the King is most appropriate as we begin Advent the following weekend.
It is natural, therefore, that all the readings for this week highlight kingship with Jesus as the central and uniting element. The first reading from 2 Samuel (recall that 1st and 2nd Samuel joins with 1st and 2nd Kings as a theological history of the Israelites) deals with the kingship of David. His anointing as King united the people of Israel under one ruler. It also contributed to the progression of the Jewish people as reflected in Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been called Jebus until this time, and then became Jerusalem, then the City of David; the Ark of the Covenant was brought to the city, and Solomon built the Temple to house it.
David himself represents a progression (similar to our progression through stewardship) from humility to service to faith to salvation. David’s kingship is analogous to Christ the King which we celebrate today.
The second reading from Second Colossians literally ties the first reading to the Gospel from Luke. St. Paul points to Jesus as the Head of the Body, the Church (the Church is His Body), the King if you will. This association points to the Lord as having been always and ever. From a stewardship perspective we must embrace, as complex as it may seem, this concept of the triune God, Who is, was, and ever shall be. Paul points clearly to the fact that God created everything, leading us to the understanding through stewardship that everything we are, everything we have comes from God. No fewer than five times does Paul use the phrase “all things” in this reading. Since God created all, we are extensions of the living Christ, and we are expected to live that out through stewardship.
Luke’s Gospel points to Jesus as not only the King Who rules over all people, but also to the King Who rules over death. As His Crucifixion is related in Luke 23 note that Christ’s first act on the Cross is to forgive: “Father, forgive them.” The two thieves crucified next to Jesus represent the two ways we can relate to the Cross — we can reject it and be unchanged; or, we can recognize it and be converted.
The key to living a life of stewardship is through conversion. The repentant thief merely says humbly to Jesus “Lord, remember me,” knowing that the Lord will take care of the rest. We, too, need to humbly turn to God and submit our lives to Him, trusting and knowing that He will provide, so that we, too, may hear Him say to us, “Amen, I say to you; today you will be with me in Paradise.”