23 November, 2015

Homily for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (B) - Rehearsing our future

Daniel 7:13-14
Revelation/Apocalypse 1:5-8
John 18:33-37

Throughout the Christian year we rehearse the story and the mysteries of salvation by celebrating special festivals and keeping sacred times both in order to make present in every age specific components of our faith, and to consecrate all time to the glory of God. This yearly rehearsal comes to its close today as we keep the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, often shorthanded as the Feast of Christ the King, but in a sense this is not a simple rehearsal of something that happened in the past – such as Christmas or the feast day of a saint – rather it is more a celebration about things yet to be fully manifested.

As I mentioned last week Jesus identified himself with certain figures and passages of Scripture found in the prophet Daniel – specifically, he announced himself as the Son of Man, the one appointed as judge of all. Last week we have looked at what the coming of the Son of Man might look like – with the end of times begin described by Daniel, and today we see in our first reading how the Son of Man will appear at his second coming; we read that
'On him was conferred sovereignty, glory, and kingship, and all people, nations, and languages became his servants' (Dan 7:14).
So, the themes of these two Sundays have something in common. Both the end times and the full revelation of the Son of Man as universal king have not yet come, and in celebrating today’s feast we take our inspiration from Scripture but we look beyond it towards things yet to come. So, as we reach the end of the Christian year, we move from rehearsing our past, to – for want of better words – rehearsing our future.

In some ways, Jesus has already been revealed as king – we are here to celebrate his kingship, we are here to acknowledge him as the Lord God – but this kingship is far from being recognised by all, and even few of us who do confess him as king sometimes misunderstand the nature of Our Lord’s sovereignty as something of this world, like Pontius Pilate does in our gospel reading. Jesus’ kingship is revealed to us and we rejoice in celebrating his high status, but outside these walls many do not know about it, many ignore it, and many even deny it. Then we may ask, Jesus is the universal king of all creation, so how come he is not acknowledged by all? In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis writes,
'Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed [in Enemy-occupied territory], you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.'
Jesus is our King in disguise, who has landed in the enemy-occupied territory of a world usurped by greed, injustice, violence, and hate. We are his subjects and servants, and as we acknowledge his rightful sovereignty he commands us to sabotage the works of injustice, to disrupt violence, and to sabotage hate so that the enemy may lose ground bit by bit until the day when his kingship will be fully revealed to all. In fact, as our second reading tells us, we are more than just servants and subjects, we are made to share in Jesus’ kingship; as the book of Apocalypse says we are made ‘into a line of kings, priests serving God’ (Rev 1:6). As a sign of this, at our Baptism and Confirmation we have been anointed with the holy oil of Chrism on our heads. By this anointing each of us has been given personal responsibility in advancing the sovereignty of our king in disguise through daily commitment to living the Christian life and by making every effort to sabotage evil in the name of the king.

'On him was conferred sovereignty, glory, and kingship, and all people, nations, and languages became his servants' (Dan 7:14).
Today we rehearse our future. As Jesus is made present as our King in the celebration of the Eucharist and as he reveals himself to us in the prophecies of Daniel, we know that one day he will be fully revealed to the entire creation as its rightful, undisputed, and loving king. On that day, the need for the yearly rehearsal of the story and the mysteries of salvation will come to an end for good, because in the final exaltation of Our Lord as the universal king, once his kingship in disguise is over, ‘all people, nations, and languages’ will find fulfilment in him.

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