CHRIST THE KING
In the last Sunday of the liturgical year the Church celebrates the royalty of Christ, Lord and Savior of all of humanity. The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of love, of justice and of peace that is founded on the revelation of God’s love and is expressed through the installation of a new order of relationships among men and women. The kingdom of Christ is the inauguration of an alternative plan in history on the part of God, which has been entrusted by the Father to the Son of man and to the people of believers. The feast of Christ the King is, therefore, a call to collaborate actively in the creation of this new humanity.
The first reading (Dan 7,13-14) places us before one of the most fundamental texts of the book of Daniel. The seventh chapter marks the beginning of the second part of the work, the most difficult and obscure, which contains the celebrated apocalyptic visions of Daniel. After the apparition of the four monstrous beasts that come out of the ocean (Dan 7,1-8) that represent the four empires that from the time of Nebuchadnezzar oppressed the chosen people, Daniel contemplates how the last beast, that was “fearful, terrifying, very strong” (Dan 7,7) is judged by God (Dan 7,9-12). It is an allusion to the pagan king Antiochus Epiphanes, that dominated Israel from 175 to 164 BC. His reign was imposing the Hellenistic culture upon the Hebrews in all of its totality. It was imposed with violence on the people, invading and covering even the religious camp, until the point of persecuting the Hebrews that remained faithful to the religion of the Fathers. Every empire, by its very nature, tends to divinize itself and to impose itself with power in every area of existence, including cultural and religious aspects.
every empire, no matter how strong it may be, succeeds another, to such a point
that the cycle of oppressive powers seems to never end. In the book of Daniel, nevertheless, the
series breaks thanks to an intervention of God. This is the great hope that generates the book. Only God can place an end to the terrible
and cruel monster of inhuman power.
Daniel, in effect, contemplates that before the throne of God “the beast
was put to death, and its body destroyed and committed to the flames” (Can
7,11). It is in this moment when Daniel
contemplates the vision of the Son of man (vv. 13-14). Originally, this figure represented all the
people of the poor and of the just that received from God definitive power. The vision of the son of man that receives,
“power, glory and kingship,” to which “all peoples, nations and languages
became his servants”
(Dan 7,14), represents the triumph of the saints of the elected people, for which the promise of a definitive liberation by God is announced.
Nevertheless, in the posterior Jewish literature and in rabbinical writings, the concept of the “kingdom of the saints” of which the book of Daniel spoke centered in upon the figure of a definitive king, with messianic qualities. The mysterious figure came to evoke, therefore, the Messiah. While the four beasts came from the “sea,” symbol of disorder and of evil, the Son of man comes “on the clouds of heaven” (Dan 7,13), that is to say, from the world of divine transcendence. He approaches an “Ancient One”, in other words, to the presence of the eternal god and from him receives royal power. Daniel indicates to us at the end the qualities of his reign: “his rule is an everlasting rule which will never pass away, and his kingship will never come to an end” (Dan 7,14). The kingdom of the Messiah is universal and eternal; it is opposed to the inhuman powers of this world and enjoys forever the protection of God.
The second reading (Rev 1,5-8) offers us a very beautiful text about the glory and lordship of Christ, inspired and illuminated by the prophecy of Daniel that helped so much the primitive Church to affirm its faith in the parousia and in the final victory of Christ. The author of Revelation gives to Christ some titles of great theological depth (Rev 1,5): Jesus Christ is the “faithful witness” that has revealed to men the mystery of God who is love; “the First-born from the death” that proceeds a multitude of brothers and sisters in divine glory; and the “Ruler of the kings of the earth,” whose power transforms effectively all of human history according to the plan of God. He it is “who loves us,” in the present of each day; “he has washed away our sins with his blood,” through is liberating sacrifice in favor of God’s plan; “he has made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father,” establishing us in history as active and effective collaborators of his kingdom (Rev 1,6). God, “the Alpha and the Omega,” of history, beginning and end of all that exists (Rev 1,8) present Christ as the omnipotent, that at the end of history will be revealed as Lord and universal Judge, “on the clouds” as the Son of Man of Daniel. Taking in those that “pierced him,” that is, those who were his historical enemies, and all “the races of the earth” will lament for his cause (Rev 1,7).
The gospel (Jn 18,33b-37) takes us to the Praetorium of Pilate during the passion of the Lord. The question of Pilate is central for the theology of John’s gospel: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Jn 18,33 b). Jesus responds affirmatively explaining that his kingdom is not of this world (in Greek: ouk ek tou kosmou) (Jn 18,36). The Greek expression wants to indicate that his kingdom is not of earthly origin nor is manifest like the earthly kingdom. Jesus does not search out his own glory, he does not have guards to defend himself, nor does he impose himself despotically (v. 36). His kingdom comes from above (first reading). Jesus affirms clearly that he is king (v. 37). Before Pilate, that represents the power of this world, Jesus declares besides that his mission is “to bear witness to the truth.” His kingdom is constructed and extends in the measure in which men and women accept the “truth,” term that in John’s gospel means the full revelation of the goodness of the Father. Whoever accepts this radical truth that Jesus has revealed to us and places it as the foundation of all of his or her existence accepts the kingdom of Christ. Starting with Jesus, power remains overcome by the entrance of love in the world.
The lordship of Christ is giving of totally and complete love, “obeying the Father until death, even death on a cross) (Phil 2,8). Christ is king in the measure in which he is not everything which the world designates with the term king. Jesus is king in that love is opposed to power. For this reason, whoever accept Christ as king, are called to negate “the truth” of power, that is, they have the mission of overcoming its logic which imposes and oppresses. The very Church participates in the power of Christ not serving herself from humanity, but serving humanity (Mk 10,41-45). And every Christian lives the mystery of the royalty of Christ living in the light of the kingdom of God, and eternal kingdom that is opposed to every type of domination and violence (first reading), a kingdom of love and of definitive salvation (second reading), a kingdom of truth and of justice (gospel).