As Christians, we acknowledge Christ as King of the universe. What is a king? We live in a culture, thankfully, that values democracy. The legendary concept of a king is someone who is all-powerful. Christ certainly fits that description. The universe came into being through God’s divine Word, the eternal Son (Colossians 1:16, John 1:3 CCC 291). God created each of us, giving each human being a soul at the moment of our conception.
But let’s think more broadly about the idea of Kingship. A king is a leader. What do we expect from leaders? Traditionally we give to leaders, democratic, royal, whatever, great honor and respect. On the other hand, something we expect from a leader (and don’t always get) is protection and guidance. The Eternal Word has entered into our human condition of uncertainty and suffering to lead us to true life, eternal life. There is in the teaching of Christ, and in His actions, true leadership. Christ gives to the apostles a sure norm for human life, “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25 – 26). This passage is something Christ said at the Last Supper. Three days later, on the first Easter, Christ offers help to the apostles, and through them, the Church, “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (John 20:22 – 23). There is even more to the help Christ has promised us, but, before we get to that, let’s think about what exactly Christ thought His kingship entailed.
Remember the gospel passage where the apostles James and John ask Christ to let them sit on His right and left when He comes into His kingdom (Mark 10:35 – 45, this doesn’t go so well, so they send their mother to ask again Matthew 20:20 – 28). Christ responds that the position, at his right and left, in His glory, will be given by His Heavenly Father. With the insight of God’s revelation to us completed we know who sat on the right and left of Christ in His glory, the two thieves of today’s gospel (Luke 23:35 – 43). The sacrifice of the cross is the mission of Christ. The reason the eternal Son entered into our human condition was to reconcile us to God. He accomplishes that through the sacrifice of the cross. There is no greater possible act of service. Our salvation is the Kingship of Christ. By His resurrection, Christ leads the way for us to heaven, but He is still here. The Second Vatican Council tells us (Lumen Gentium 11, CCC1324) that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. This is true because the Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross (CCC 1330, 1365 – 1367, Council of Trent 1562).
This brings us back to the help we receive from Christ our king. The heart of Christ’s kingship is our salvation, but He is still our leader. We really need to think about what He wants us to do. The teaching of Christ we receive from the Church is a reliable guide for authentic and full life. Christ is here to strengthen and guide us on our Christian journey in the Mass and the sacraments of the Church. The central message Christ shows us in His kingship is that authentic life is love lived as self-giving. As citizens of His kingdom, we are called to imitate Him.