CHRIST THE KING Year C – The Lamb that was Slain
The age of kings and emperors is gone. Those who bear royal titles today are figureheads that remind us of the glories of yesterday. The kings and queens of history are remembered mostly for their absolute and often despotic power and territorial conquests. As we celebrate the feast of Christ the King we celebrate someone who exercised a very different kind of power, but from the powerlessness of the cross. “The feast is an occasion to discover (or re-discover) the power of Jesus, how it works and what are its effects,” writes Michel de Verteuil. It’s an opportunity to experience Jesus’ exercise of power as gospel good news and as a call to follow Jesus more completely.
Jesus’ power was not about saving himself from death on the cross. As we look at him the eyes of faith should recognise a different kind of power. We see him in solidarity with criminals, the lowest rungs of society, reaching out and offering the best God has to give – paradise. Unlike the power of earthly monarchs Jesus’ power is one of service and compassion to all in need, whatever their pain and hurt might be. The Spirit of God continues the mysterious power of Jesus in the world, the power of gentleness and compassion, mercy and forgiveness. That’s uniquely Christian.
Jesus, in coming to live among us, emptied himself of anything and everything that smacked of royalty or worldly grandeur – cf. Philippians 2: 6 ff. He came and lived as one of us, an ordinary person but with power from God. He was born poor, grew up poor and obedient to his parents, became an itinerant preacher and healer, and died a criminal’s death for calling out the hypocrisy of the world around him. When he died he sent the Spirit of God into the world to continue his presence and inspire his followers.
“True faith is not possible without compassion” wrote Albert Nolan OP. “The kingdom Jesus preached and in which he wanted his contemporaries to believe was a kingdom of love and service, a community of sisters and brothers in which everyone is loved and respected because they are human. Nobody can believe in or hope for such a kingdom unless they have learned to be moved with compassion for others. Jesus’ power and the power of God is the power of compassion. Our compassion for one another releases God’s power in the world, the only power that can bring about the miracle of the kingdom” – Nolan, Jesus before Christianity, 84.
Fr. QQ – 11/17/2022