THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING – THE FINAL SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2021)
Readings:Daniel 7:13-14Psalms 93:1-2, 5Revelation 1:5-8John 18:33-37
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, a world-renowned theologian and ecumenical teacher, makes an interesting point that, while it is meant to shock, it also proclaims something essential about the feast which closes our liturgical year. Note that the feast is not “Jesus the King of the Universe.” It is “Christ the King of the Universe,” compelling Fr. Rohr to make the simple statement: “The Christ is not the same as Jesus.” While the statement might at first border on what appears to be blasphemy, Rohr makes an excellent point. The Jesus we have come to know in our personal encounters has only existed for a little over 2,000 years. “The Christ, the King of the Universe, the pattern of all things,” says Rohr, “has existed, according to our present understanding of the universe, for 14.6 billion years,” the ‘Big Bang’ moment of the vast universe we are presently living in.
According to Fr. Rohr, “the Big Bang is when God first decided to show God’s self. That’s the original Incarnation, or the Alph Point.” Science tells us our Universe is still expanding, after 14.6 billion years, it’s still moving outward from that first explosion, and God has continued for 14.6 billion years to reveal Himself to humankind. However, we believe that there is no revelation so definitive and so important, as the revelation we will celebrate on Christmas. It was on that first Christmas night that God sent His only Son into our world, a Son present 14.6 billion years ago when the universe was created, a revelation of the mystery of God from the beginning until the end of time, when our universe will stop expanding and in a quick moment everything will implode and return to the Source of all things, Jesus/God, the King of the universe.
The feast we celebrate today has a rather recent history. Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, it served as the prelude to the Feast of All Saints, November 1. In 1969, in order to make its eschatological importance all the clearer, it was made a Solemnity by Pope Paul VI, and moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, serving as a prelude to the season of Advent.
Fr. Rohr’s distinction between Jesus and the Christ is important, for it highlights the scope of the Solemnity we celebrate today, a solemnity 14.6 billion years in the making. Rohr sums up his teaching, stating “in a moment of time, this eternal Christ mystery came as a person that you and I call Jesus. Creation itself is the timeless Incarnation which we call Christ, and Jesus is the personal Incarnation born in a moment of time when we could begin to understand and love a person. Christianity is the religion which dares to believe this. Do you realize what a daring belief system we have?! Can you really believe that one ordinary looking man, born in a little dusty town in Palestine, is the eternal blueprint of what God has been doing since the beginning of time “in Christ”? That is what we believe when we say we believe in both “Jesus” and “Christ.””
Fr. Richard Rohr’s question on this last Sunday of the liturgical year, helps us to see the scope of our annual Solemnity. It is out of love that the God we worship created the universe we live in. It is out of love that He has sustained that universe, and at the right moment in time, He sent His only Son into our universe in order that we might truly learn what love is, and learn the lessons of love. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel in our first reading: His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, His kingship shall not be destroyed.” Jesus is the “Alpha and Omega” of the Book of Revelation, “the one who is and who was, and who is to come, the almighty.”
Pilate in John’s gospel reading was in no position to understand anything about Jesus’ kingdom, for he was gripped by the fear which affects so many of those in power – the fear of losing power. Jesus is our King, and we follow Him not out of fear, but because we want to know the truth, the way, and life. No one of this world can teach us what that is – only Jesus can show us the path to salvation, for He has been there from time immemorial, and His reign is eternal.