Like no other King
We’ve arrived at the last Sunday of the Church Year, the Feast of Christ the King. Everything culminates in the Truth that Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who died on a cross as a criminal and who rose from the dead, is the King of Creation and reigns over every principality and power of this world.
Christ as King is a different kind of king. It’s important to remember how the office of king came into being. Primitive peoples, in order to secure a good harvest or success in battle against their enemies, sought to win the approval of their god(s). So they would choose a person (King) to be sacrificed to god- a chosen victim. This person would “reign” until the appointed time for his execution, the date being determined by various rituals. During this time, sometimes years, the chosen victim gained a lot of prestige and power. This enabled the chosen one to secure a substitute and a continuing supply of other victims. Eventually this chosen one, the king, came to preside over the entire sacrificial system of the tribe. Rene Girard writes
The king reigns only by virtue of his future death; he is no more or no less than a victim awaiting sacrifice, a condemned man about to be executed.
Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, was a King like no other. He was a chosen victim to die for his people, yes, he could have side-stepped his fate, but instead offered himself, requiring no others to take his place. Instead of participating in a system of sacrifice, he replaced it with a revelation of God’s love. God no longer had to be appeased by multiple sacrifices and victim after victim. Jesus Christ himself would be the victim, not to appease God, but to show the extent of a Father’s love for all of His children in the world.
There is word that describes this kind of love: agape. Agape is God’s unexplainable love for all people, even in their sin and violence toward one another. When, one by one, we come to realize this love, we are free to love in the same way. When we are harmed we can let go of the desire for revenge and grasp the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive as Jesus did. This is the message of the Gospel:
We are freed to live as if God were King on earth. Jesus, the Messiah King, redefines what it means to be a king, a leader, or person of power. Christ as King is a completely different kind of king the world has ever known.
The choice is ours. We can either follow a “Caesar” type king (whose Pax Romana built on war and the terror caused by the new technology of the cross), or we can choose Jesus’ way. We can, in Jeremiah’s prophecy, live as scattered sheep, with shepherds who look out only for themselves, or accept the just and righteous Shepherd God gave us in Jesus Christ.
Each Sunday we gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge Christ as the King of our lives and the whole world. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven:
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:11) Amen!
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.