Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. When we hear the word “king” we most often think pomp and privilege, power and wealth. However, when we refer to Christ as King we are talking of a different kind of kingdom and hence a different kind of Kingship!
This Solemnity is relatively new in the Church calendar, being added in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. In the face of the cultural excesses and rising nationalism of the 1920’s the Church sought to remind people of what seemed an upside-down world view, where the powerless were served first, the disenfranchised were embraced with dignity and respect, and where calling Christ the King meant a kingship of service to the least of our sisters and brothers.
The Kingdom envisioned here is eschatological, i.e. the Kingdom of God. This is the Kingdom that all the baptized are called to work towards. When we were baptized, we were anointed as “priest, prophet and king.” Through the waters of baptism and by the power of the Spirit we are called to join in the mission of Christ. We daily offer our very selves, turning and returning in our relationship with God. We share a prophetic word, often a difficult word for the world to hear, a word that runs counter to the values of the culture around us. Finally, we embrace a kingship of service. We live out our baptismal commitment by serving as Christ did, giving ourselves away as he did to build this new Kingdom, as the Gospel this week reminds us. The timing of this reminder seems very appropriate as we end the liturgical year this weekend and move into the Season of Advent, a season that focuses for the most part not on the first coming of Christ but on the second when the Kingdom reaches its fulfillment.