To most of us the word “King” has primarily a historical meaning. It recalls memories of an outmoded form of Government where one man held all the power and exercised all the authority. We have long since left that system behind and would not even consider going back to it. Never the less we gather this Sunday to observe the solemnity of Christ the King. The Gospel tells us that when he died there was an inscription above his head that said “This is the King of the Jews”. This statement meant different things to different people. Technically it was the formal charge against him, the crime for which he was crucified. Pilate was the one who had it written and placed there. He did not believe it, but for him it was a way to insult the Jewish leaders. To the Roman soldiers the inscription was mainly a cruel joke. They knelt before him and said “Hail King of the Jews”. When they had crucified him they continued their mockery, challenging him to prove his power by saving himself from the cross. Among those involved in the Crucifiction it would appear that only the one, the good thief took seriously the inscription proclaiming Christ as King. Since then and on this day Christians around the world will proclaim Christ as their King. Habit is part of the reason we call him our King, but there is more to it than that, something real, something that touches our lives in a deep and meaningful way. I think it is recognition of the supreme quality of his life. The word King has a symbolic as well as a literal meaning. We use to describe someone or something that is supreme in a certain class. A lion is called a the “King of the beasts”, an eagle is called the “King of the birds”, for those of us old enough to remember, band leader Benny Goodman was known as the “King of the swing” and actor Clarke Gable the actor was called the “King of the silver screen”.
In the same way but in a deeper sense, we speak of Jesus Christ as the King. He is the supreme person, the one who stands head and shoulders about all the rest. He is everything that we are not, but knew that we ought to be, and wish that we were. Think of any trait of character, any quality of life that you admire and you will find it supremely evident in Christ the King. Fr John