Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

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Cycle C

Feast of Christ the King


 Luke 23.35-43

"This is the King of the Jews"

When describing the death of Jesus a few verses after today’s reading, Luke says “all his friends stood at a distance”. It creates an image of Jesus isolated on the cross with no other companions than the two criminals who were crucified with him. People in the watching crowd, as we hear today, jeered at him, mocked him and abused him. Yet, over the head of Jesus was an inscription which proclaimed “This is the King of the Jews”. What a stark and violent contrast to the pomp and power of earthly kings! Jesus had said very firmly to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world, but a scene like this makes one ask “Can this truly be a king?” and if so “What sort of king is he?”

On this last day of the Church year we can look back and recall that time and time again we have noted how Jesus turned the values of this world upside down. His entire life and mission was to proclaim in word and deed that the kingdom of God is present among us. Not a kingdom of domination, power and wealth, but the reign of divine truth and love, a reign that manifests itself in self-giving service. Jesus does not use power for his own benefit, not even to save himself from the cross, but gives himself entirely for others. Therein lies the abiding power of the Kingdom of Christ, described in today's preface as "a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace".

Today we rejoice and celebrate that Jesus Christ is King of the Universe, but each of us still has to ask “Is he truly king of my life?” Who, or what, really gives meaning and purpose and direction to my life? Who, or what, rules my life? What are the values that guide my life? Love and service of others, defending truth and promoting life, working for justice and peace and reconciliation, these are some of the signs that will reveal that Christ reigns in us.