The Solemnity of Christ the King (Year B)

by David Scott


Daniel 7:13-14 

Psalm 93:1-2,5 

Revelation 1:5-8 

John 18:33-37


Christ, Savior of Mankind Unknown Flemish Master, 1590s (Rockox House, Antwerp)
Christ, Savior of Mankind Unknown Flemish Master, 1590s (Rockox House, Antwerp)

A Royal Truth

What’s the truth Jesus comes to bear witness to in this last Gospel of the Church’s year?

It’s the truth that in Jesus, God keeps the promise He made to David—of an everlasting kingdom, of an heir who would be His Son, “the first born, highest of the kings of the earth” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89:27-38).

Today’s Second Reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, quotes these promises and celebrates Jesus as “the faithful witness.” The reading hearkens back to Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would “witness to the peoples” that God is renewing His “everlasting covenant” with David (see Isaiah 55:3-5).

But as Jesus tells Pilate, there’s far more going on here than the restoration of a temporal monarchy. In the Revelation reading, Jesus calls Himself “the Alpha and the Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He’s applying to Himself a description that God uses to describe Himself in the Old Testament – the first and the last, the One Who calls forth all generations (see Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).

“He has made the world,” today’s Psalm cries, and His dominion is over all creation (see also John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17). In the vision of Daniel we hear in today’s First Reading, He comes on “the clouds of heaven”—another sign of His divinity—to be given “glory and kingship” forever over all nations and peoples.

Christ is King and His Kingdom, while not of this world, exists in this world in the Church. We are a royal people. We know we have been loved by Him and freed by His blood and transformed into “a Kingdom, priests for His God and Father” (see also Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).

As a priestly people, we share in His sacrifice and in His witness to God’s everlasting covenant. We belong to His truth and listen to His voice, waiting for Him to come again amid the clouds.

On Prayer, 25

The kingdom of sin cannot coexist with the kingdom of God. If, therefore, we wish to be ruled by God, let not sin rule in any way in our bodies; and let us not obey its commands, when it summons our soul to the works of the flesh and to what is alien to God.

Rather, let us put to death the members that are on earth; and let us bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, so that the Lord may, as it were, walk about in us as in a spiritual garden, ruling alone over us with His Christ sitting in us at the right hand of the spiritual power we pray to obtain and seated until all His enemies in us become the stool of His feet and every rule and authority and power is destroyed from us.

For it is possible that this will come to pass for each one of us and that the last enemy, death, will be destroyed, so that also in our case Christ will say, “O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?” Now, then, let our “corruptible” put on holiness in purity and all spotlessness, and let it put on “incorruption.” And let “this mortal,” when death has been destroyed, clothe itself with the Father’s immortality, so that we who are ruled by God may now be partakers of the good things of regeneration and resurrection. (Biblical references: Rom 6,12; Col 3,5; Gn 3,8; Mt 26,64; Ps 110,1; 1Cor 15,

Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus Address, November 26, 2006

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today’s Gospel proposes to us anew part of the dramatic questioning to which Pontius Pilate subjected Jesus when he was handed over to him, accused of usurping the title, “King of the Jews”.

Jesus answered the Roman governor’s questions by declaring that he was a king, but not of this world (cf. Jn 18: 36). He did not come to rule over peoples and territories but to set people free from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God. And he added: “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18: 37).

But what is the “truth” that Christ came into the world to witness to? The whole of his life reveals that God is love: so this is the truth to which he witnessed to the full with the sacrifice of his own life on Calvary.

The Cross is the “throne” where he manifested his sublime kingship as God Love: by offering himself in expiation for the sin of the world, he defeated the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12: 31) and established the Kingdom of God once and for all. It is a Kingdom that will be fully revealed at the end of time, after the destruction of every enemy and last of all, death (cf. I Cor 15: 25-26). The Son will then deliver the Kingdom to the Father and God will finally be “everything to everyone” (I Cor 15: 28).

The way to reach this goal is long and admits of no short cuts: indeed, every person must freely accept the truth of God’s love. He is Love and Truth, and neither Love nor Truth are ever imposed: they come knocking at the doors of the heart and the mind and where they can enter they bring peace and joy. This is how God reigns; this is his project of salvation, a “mystery” in the biblical sense of the word: a plan that is gradually revealed in history.

The Virgin Mary was associated in a very special way with Christ’s kingship. God asked her, a humble young woman of Nazareth, to become Mother of the Messiah and Mary responded to this request with her whole self, joining her unconditional “yes” to that of her Son, Jesus, and making herself obedient with him even in his sacrifice. This is why God exalted her above every other creature and Christ crowned her Queen of Heaven and earth.

Let us entrust the Church and all humanity to her intercession, so that God’s love can reign in all hearts and his design of justice and peace be fulfilled.