Gospel Luke 23:35-43
‘In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’
Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year we celebrate a feast formally titled, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, simply, the Feast of Christ the King.
To modern ears the language of Kingship can be somewhat jarring. A good friend and colleague of mine, of American extraction, often likes to refer to the fact that as an American he is a citizen, while as members of a constitutional monarchy, Australians are to be considered to be subjects.
Being considered a subject of a monarch is, in our modern ‘Western’ context, something we would see as particularly undignified. As such, we are likely to look on this feast as some bizarre throwback to a tradition that has lost all real meaning – perhaps not realising that this is a particularly modern feast (it was only instituted in 1925!)
The Gospel reading for today though can give us some clues as to the ongoing relevance of this feast, particularly for our time, and how we should in fact be seeking to be subjects in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is perhaps the key theme in Jesus’ preaching throughout the Gospels. The subjects of the Kingdom are those who work to extend the reign of God across time and space – a task that is achieved through reverent service to God through serving the most marginalised among us.
Choosing not to be a subject of the King, it seems, has some tragic consequences. One would struggle, I would think, to imagine words that are more difficult to hear at the end of one’s life as the words of the King addressed to those on his left in this parable.
If this pricks our conscience, then perhaps we could use this upcoming and graced time of Advent to prepare for the coming of the King – to acclimatise ourselves to being subjects of His Kingdom.
Point to Ponder
Many nations’ rulers you profess
And in a public worship bless;
May Teachers, Judges, you revere,
In Arts and Laws may this appear.
Let every royal standard shine
In homage to your power divine;
Beneath your gentle rule subdue
The homes of all, their countries, too.
All glory be, O Lord, to you,
All earhthly powers you subdue;
With Father and the Spirit be
All glory yours eternally
– Te saeculroum in principem, from First Vespers on the on the Feast of Christ the King.