Christ the King – Year C

christking

Central Idea: Christ is the King of the Universe. Doctrine: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. Practical Application: Prayer for the acceptance of death.

To view Lectionary 162, click here.

Central Idea: Christ is the King of the Universe

Reading 1 2 Sm 5:1-3

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you,
‘You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.’”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.

  • God chose David to be the shepherd and commander of his Chosen People. David proved his worth under Saul. The elders of Israel asked David to be their king. He agreed, and they anointed him.
  • God the Father chose his son, Jesus Christ, to be shepherd and commander of all human beings. Christ proved himself through his Passion. When we ask him to be our king, he anoints us with the Sacraments.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.

According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.

  • The House of the Lord, now, is heaven where Christ the King of the Universe dwells. His person is the Temple. We are of his tribe. Our life on this earth is a pilgrimage whose goal is that House. This is why “I rejoiced because they said to me, ‘We will go up to the house of the LORD.’”

Reading 2 Col 1:12-20

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

  • In just a few sentences, St. Paul presents a complete Christology, that is, an account of who Jesus Christ is. Paul’s words will echo in the Nicene Creed, which we will recite shortly.
    • In Christ the fullness of God dwells.
    • Through him and for him all things, including the angels, were made.
    • Christ is our redeemer, by his cross delivering us from the devil and forgiving our sins.
    • He is our sanctifier, making us fit for heaven.
    • He is the head of the Church, which is his body.
    • He is the first to rise from the dead.
    • He is, as today’s feast says simply, the King.

Gospel Lk 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

  • The rulers, soldiers, and even a condemned criminal poured scorn on our Crucified Lord. Yet Christ was “the Chosen one, the Christ of God,” the “King of the Jews,” and “innocent.” He ascended to his throne through every way that is the opposite of human triumph.
  • Christ’s reign in his kingdom of Paradise would begin that very day.

Doctrine: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead

  • “Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.” (CCC 680)
    • Christ reigns on earth through the actions of each person who cooperates with his grace.
    • None of us does this perfectly but many seem perfectly opposed to this good subjection.
    • Before the end, the powers of evil will rise up against Christ and his Church on earth.
  • “On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history” (CCC 681).
    • We are living in the age of the wheat and the tares, of good and evil existing together, when evil cannot be extracted without harming the good. God is permitting them to grow together to allow them to turn out the way they choose.
    • The tares can become wheat through God’s grace and our apostolate.
    • We who hope we are wheat can have tares growing in our own hearts by our attachment to sin.
  • “When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace” (682).
    • Christ will bring all humanity together, and because Christ will reveal it, every one of us will know everyone else’s true life story.
    • Out of shame, we shrink from the idea of being truly known, but everything will come to light someday.
    • Final reality is binary: heaven or hell will be the consequence of our good or evil works and our acceptance or rejection of God’s grace.

Practical Application: Prayer for the acceptance of death

  • Catholic piety has created many ways of responding to the reality of death and judgment. One is this “Prayer for the Acceptance of Death” which we can both meditate on and recite often.
    • “Dear God and Father of mine, Lord of life and death, with an immutable decree you have established that, as a just chastisement for our sins, all of us have to die.
    • “Look at me here bent low before you. From the bottom of my heart, I abhor my past faults, for which I have merited death a thousand times, a death that I now accept as atonement for my sins and as proof of my submission to your lovable will.
    • “O Lord, happily will I die at the moment, in the place, and in the way that you want.
    • “And until that day I will take advantage of the days of life that remain in order to fight against my defects and grow in your love, to break the bonds that tie my heart to creatures, and to prepare my soul to appear in your presence; and from this moment on I abandon myself without reserve into the arms of your fatherly providence.”

The Homiletic Directory also suggests the following Catechism points and themes for these Lectionary readings:

Solemnity of Christ the King: Christ the origin and goal of history

  • CCC 440, 446-451, 668-672, 783, 786, 908, 2105, 2628: Christ as Lord and King
  • CCC 678-679, 1001, 1038-1041: Christ as Judge
  • CCC 2816-2821: “Thy Kingdom Come”
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