The readings present three different images for celebrating Christ the King. In the gospel, the Messiah reigns from the cross where he distributes justice on the world. In the second reading we have one of the four great Christological hymns, in sharp contrast to the image of the king on the cross; the hymns employs dense philosophical vocabulary to reflect on the nature of the Christ. In the first reading, the kingship of David is placed within covenant and nuptial language as a fulfillment of the peoples’ prayer for a ruler (like the other nations). This is a very interesting combination, and probably difficult to flesh out in an integrated homily. Each image requires its own full attention.

This king is unlike any other. There have been a few kings who became saints, Vaclav for the Czechs for example, but still, none like Christ. We pray for a just ruler/president, and we have instead men each with their own flaws. No one is perfect, which does not excuse the bad behavior. We hope for Plato’s philosopher king filled with wisdom and order. Many other nations have been stuck with monstrous dictators and tyrants. We all pray that we live in a time of peace and prosperity, and so too, our children.

When we consider the disappointments in these earthly rulers, we yearn for the Prince of Peace and the just judge to help us govern our lives and create a human society of dignity and respect for each person. That’s probably not going to happen. So we await this new kind of king. Or do we?

In our current state of lawlessness, outsized individualism and fierce independence, it is very difficult to imagine people giving their over their lives to any kind of king, in a culture where everyone is a king and “queen for a day.” So this day is not only a reflection on and yearning for Christ the king, but also is a great deal about our own discipleship, our servanthood, our fealty to the real Messianic king. What does that look like for us?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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