Last Sunday in Ordinary Time | Jn 18:33-37
Today we celebrate Christ the Universal King. Some countries still have monarchs as we do with the Queen as our head of state. However, the titles of king and queen and all that goes with it can be problematic for some of us.
As Catholics we can still accept and make sense of this title and Mary too as Queen of Heaven. Christ as King is deserving of our worship and praise and we can with reverence wholeheartedly repeat as we do in our Psalm response today ‘The Lord is King; he is robed in majesty.
Life As A Humble Servant
In the light of countries as Republics, Christ the president or prime minister doesn’t inspire the same sentiment does it?
Nonetheless, we can still feel uncomfortable with these titles that can be associated with kings and queens of the past who ruled out of divine right and in many cases oppressed their people to maintain their privilege and position.
The Gospel betrayal of Jesus as King today before Pilate is a far cry from the image of a King on a throne holding a sceptre or wielding temporal power and commanding a great army in battle. Jesus has only a crown of thorns and is mocked as King of the Jews. His entry into Jerusalem on a donkey just a few days earlier is a parody of a royal entry into the city gates. His kingdom, Pilate is told, is “not of this world.”
In Matthew 25, we do see him sitting on a glorious throne but here we are reminded that Jesus constantly preached about the coming of the Kingdom of God, or the Reign of God and given his words and actions during his public ministry the Reign of God was more about serving and loving the poor, the sick, the possessed, the outcast and getting others to do the same rather than a concern about the trappings of power and the glory that surround it.
As Christians, we can resonate with the image of Christ as the Shepherd or Servant King who came to serve not to be served and to seek out the lost and the stray.
During my 30-day retreat a couple of years ago, one of the prayer spaces I felt drawn to was in front of a painting of the washing of the feet by Sieger Koder. Christ is bent over, bowed low washing the feet of Peter. Here he is, the King of the Universe, in such a lowly and submissive position showing us the way to be. Sometimes we hear in TV Drama when the King is present, some dignitary call out, “Bow before the King”! How different it is to see Christ bow before Peter and encourage us to go and do the same.
Yes, we do bow before the Risen Christ our King who has won the victory over death and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us but as his followers, he invites us to bow too before his body, his brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters in loving service acknowledging their dignity and preciousness in the sight of God. In Christ we are all sons and daughters and have a royal inheritance.
As the Church’s year comes to an end and the Season of Advent approaches let’s renew our commitment to live lives of humble service in imitation of our Servant King.