Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, “in splendor robed,” closes Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar before the Season of Advent turns our attention to the vulnerable Child born in a stable. In the United States, we do not take kindly to kingship and kingdom given our history of separation from being ruled by a king. In the magnificent Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, over the main altar is a very large mosaic of a muscular, white, blond, scowling King Jesus (pictured) for which I feel antipathy. For me, it is no more authentic than the sweet, docile Jesus on many holy cards.
In this week’s gospel, Jesus acknowledges kingship when he is on trial before Pilate. He clearly states, however, “My kingdom does not belong to this world,” before he is led to be tortured and crucified. His is a spiritual kingdom embracing everyone. I recall an incident shared by a priest who was praying in a small chapel in a country in Africa (I forget which one) and noticed something different about the crucifix. A closer look revealed that there were no nails holding Jesus to the cross. Why? Because it was love that held Jesus, our crucified king, to an instrument of agony and death.
As the Church transitions from Ordinary Time to Advent preparations for the birth of the Incarnate God as a small baby, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is both the “Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8) and the King of Love. Today, we honor Christ, King of the Universe, and Christ, King of Hearts.
Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director
This week, each time you pray the familiar words of the Our Father, “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” acknowledge that God’s kingdom of love, truth, mercy, and justice can come on earth today only through us, in faith.
As we honor Christ, King of the Universe, may we remember that his kingdom embraces all people and all races, let us pray.
That we assume responsibility for spreading God’s kingdom of love, let us pray.
Prayer by St. John XXIII
Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of peace,
make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice, and neighborly love.
Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace.
Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend
the great gift of peace.
May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters.
May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all.