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Sunday Readings for Nov. 21, 2010 (34C)
By Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB
When we read today's Gospel, we see that Jesus is called King of the Jews. His style of kingship is not what anyone was expecting. The first thing that a king must have if he is to continue as king is some kind of power. Jesus seems helpless. Jesus actually chooses to be helpless and to allow himself to be ridiculed and despised. This surely does not sound like a king with any power.
The teaching in the Gospels is absolutely clear: If you want to be first, then be the last. If you want to have power, then become the servant of all others. The Solemnity of Christ the King is not about power or about being first--no, it is about doing the will of the Father. Today's challenge is not for Christians to take on power and prestige. Today's challenge is about Christians believing and being will to suffer for their beliefs.
The first reading today is from the Second Book of Samuel and tells about the anointing of David as king. If we look at David, we find a man who is faithful to the Lord, but also a great and glorious sinner. David has immense energies and they are not all given over to serving God. In this sense David is a good model for all of us. What stands out in David's life is his ability to repent of his sins and to turn back to God. In this sense, David is a model king.
Most of us in the West are not very familiar with actual living kings because kings and queens have mostly disappeared. Those that remain are no longer kings and queens with any absolute power. Most are constitutional monarchs. It doesn't really matter, because the image of the king is simply the image of a very powerful person who is able to unite a people. In that sense, a president today could also be seen as a king. In the tradition of the Old Testament, of course, kings are anointed. They have a mission from God. Our presidents today are not anointed but almost always we expect them to be saviors.
Perhaps we could spend time today reflecting that in Christ the King we have the reconciliation of all things, according to the Second Reading from the Letter to the Colossians. The only way to this reconciliation is through suffering and death. We are invited to die to ourselves today and to allow the world to be reconciled in us. This can only happen when we are able truly to forgive everyone who has ever harmed us or caused us problems.
Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Be at peace and you will bring reconciliation. Take up the Cross so that you may share the Resurrection.