Christ the King  (Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43)




            Luke’s gospel recalls the terrible day when Jesus was crucified. The choice of this gospel for the festive celebration of Christ the King may seem strange. That God allowed the crucifixion of such a good man, not to mention his own Chosen One, has been a scandal from the day it happened until today. If Jesus were truly God’s Chosen One, how could God have let this happen? If God loved him, wouldn’t God have intervened to save him?


            But the prophet Isaiah had already described God’s Chosen One as the Suffering Servant of God. He would not raise his voice (Is 42:2); he would be despised (Is 49:7) and treated harshly. But he would endure humbly, without a word of resentment. He would be put to death through the malice of others and he would accept it to save us from ourselves.


            In our day to day life, we are familiar with Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God, to the extent that we suffer as he did to do God’s will, and we may ask why this must be. Surely, God could save us more often, if God wanted to.


            But as Christians, we are specially chosen by God the Father of Jesus to put to death our selfishness, and even our legitimate self-interest, for the benefit of others in greater need. We make our way through a world that cries out for genuine love, wants justice done, and yearns for peace. We realize that the crucifixion of Jesus is still going on, in the lives not only of Christians but of all people, especially those who are most oppressed.


            As Christians, we are blessed, because even in the worst situations we have reason for hope. Jesus saved us while he accepted crucifixion. He who chose not to spare himself is King of the Universe. Unlike other kings, he doesn’t rely on force. He is king because he is the servant of all. He loses his life to save those who are lost.


            Luke’s gospel of the crucifixion draws attention to Christ the King. The soldiers mocked Jesus, saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” And above him there was a mocking inscription: “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals crucified beside him abused him, but the other pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, and was promised, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”


            In today’s feast of Christ the King, we rejoice in the complete success and future triumph of our Saviour. We envision what will be, his kingdom of love, justice and peace that our present world yearns for.


            St Paul, in our second reading, speaks as though the future kingdom of God is with us already. He says that God the Father “has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves” (Col 1:13). But we must also remember what Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”.


            Not even the Catholic Church is yet the Kingdom of Christ. We are pilgrim people, on our way to the eternal kingdom of love, justice and peace. In our present distress, we revive our vision of the kingdom to come, and we look forward with joy and hope to the victory of Christ our King.


            His reign is coming about, but not by force. It is the triumph of God’s merciful forgiveness exercised by Jesus and his followers. He lost all prospects of success in this world, he even lost his earthly life, but he found eternal life for himself and others, including us.


            His humiliation was swallowed up in triumph; his sorrow gave way to joy; no failure was ever so successful. The one who willingly lost all now has the power to save all.


            Today, we don’t mourn his shameful death, but we celebrate his splendid achievement. The Suffering Servant will be King of the Universe. The King is already present among us, but we have yet to see who he will be, and who we will be with him.