Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christ, a King for Us!

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Praised Be Jesus, everyone!

This week, the Church (in the Ordinary Form) celebrates the end of the liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King. The day is rife with images of Christ in Splendor, on a glorious throne seated in majesty. These images display a particular truth of Christ's role as King of Heaven and Earth, the Cosmos, and how Jesus will rule at the end of the time, but I am particularly pleased that Sunday's Gospel concentrated on the Crucifixion from Luke and Christ's pardon of the Good Thief, known to us as Dismas. The Gospel I cited above may not seem like it has anything to do with the Feast of Christ the King, but it actually tells us much more about Christ's Kingship.

Many of the religious leaders of Jesus' time held to a strict adherence to the Mosaic Law — so much so that in many instances, they had forgotten the point of the Law, which was to help the Jews attain holiness and purity of life. This forgetfulness led to a type of mechanical observance, one that had lost the heart of the Law. Jesus reminds us in this reading that the Law is there to serve Man and not Man the Law, and that the Law of Charity supersedes the strict observance of the Law. The Law was put in place not for its own sake; at its inner most core, the Law is created for Man's benefit, to sanctify man and raise him to holiness. This is true for the Law of the Church also.

In the same way that the Law was created for our benefit, Christ is King for our benefit. As Lord and Creator of the Law, and the one who is the fulfillment of the Law, Christ rules not so that we may merely serve Him, but so that He can serve us. In this way, I feel a lot of the images we see on this Feast of Christ as King are rather deceiving and miss a fundamental element of Christ's Kingship: Christ rules, yes, but Christ can only rule through hearts who let Him in, hearts that allow Him to serve them, to make them holy, hearts in which He acts. Christ is not a passive ruler on a throne, but a ruler who is working and serving in and amongst His people.

Christ's Kingship of service is perfectly enacted on the Cross. It is on the Cross that Christ perfectly enacts the Law and is perfectly in service to us. It is in the Cross that Christ imparts salvation and through the Cross that we will be saved. It is on the Cross that the King is truly working for our benefit, the benefit that we, like Saint Dismas, will be brought into Jesus' Kingdom.

Prayer for the Solemn Feast of the Sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme King

Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things, mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the nations that are divided by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule. Who liveth and reigneth with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

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