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What sort of king was he?

(2 Sam 5.1-3; Col 1.12-20; Lk 23.35-43)

Kings are not so much in fashion, today. King Charles stands under the shadow of his mother, a remarkable woman, one of a kind. Can he command a fraction of the esteem and loyalty that she evoked? Many Christians, in their turn, ask, is the title of king, applied to Jesus, totally out of kilter with the best values of our present age?

To answer that question we need to reflect upon the character of the kingdom that Christ came to found. The Greek word basilea (usually translated as kingdom) depicts a way of ruling, and of exercising leadership, far different from pictures of palaces and servants. We see this contrast mirrored in Jesus’ birth and death. Born in a stable, poor and powerless, yet targeted for assassination by a despot who feared any rival, his death paints a similar picture; he hangs executed between two criminals, while his followers fade away. (Lk 23.35-38)

The letter to the Colossians, however, proclaims that he has already changed the course of history. His true but hidden identity lies in being the Son of God, through whom all creation comes into being and is held in being. (Col 1.16) His rule, however, does not depend on coercion and force. Rather it is his conquest of death, and the promise of this extended to all his followers (even to the criminals hanging beside him), that is already transforming the world by conquering enmity and hatred, allowing peace and reconciliation to flourish. (Col 1.18) As yet, this transformation has not come about in its fullness but is already taking shape in every loving and forgiving Christian heart and life.

The Feast of Christ the King, year C1

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