November 20, 2022 — The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
2 SM 5:1-3; PS 122:1-5; COL 1:12-20; LK 23:35-43
On this Feast of Christ the King, our readings show us that we serve the greatest of Kings, who is at the same time the humblest of Kings. Christ is the perfect model of servant leadership. And what an indescribable privilege that He has called us to be servant leaders — stewards in the work of advancing His Kingdom.
In our second reading, from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul describes the great power and dignity that characterize Christ the King. “All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together… For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell.” It makes you want to stand up and cheer. That’s our King!
Yet what a contrasting description of the same King we find in our Gospel passage, from Luke. Now we see our King nailed to the Cross. Everyone from rulers to soldiers, to the criminals on either side of Christ is mocking, sneering, and reviling him. They tauntingly urge him to prove His kingship by coming down from the Cross to end his suffering with a great show of power. “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”
But He does not.
Amazingly, it is in this moment of seeming weakness and humiliation, when all appears hopeless and lost, that the full breadth of his greatness as king is displayed. Though all things were created through and for Him — Christ chooses to live entirely for others, for us!
What does this mean for us as his followers and stewards of His kingdom? Precisely that our lives are not about us. They are about Christ and others. And we will advance his kingdom to the extent that we embrace this mindset: my life is not about me; it is about serving Christ and others.
The “good thief” hanging on the cross next to Jesus realizes this just in time. Struck by our Lord’s perfect humility, he recognizes that Christ is indeed the King of kings. In his last moments of life, he becomes a steward of Christ’s kingdom as he counsels the criminal on our Lord’s other side to repent. What is the result? Jesus promises the good thief a place with him that very day in Paradise. Our God simply cannot be outdone in generosity.
What powerful lessons this King teaches us from the Cross. We learn that true leadership is displayed in emptying ourselves for others; that true greatness is displayed by way of humility; that none of us is worthy of the call to stewardship of His kingdom but that all of us, like the good thief, are welcomed and invited to take up this call. Following in His footsteps will involve suffering and sacrifice. Yet how can we say no to the King who loves us so completely and promises that His faithful stewards will one day be with Him in Paradise?