Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, 20 November, 2022: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 21:35-43
I offer you two images of Kingship found in today’s readings and pictured in this chapel.
The first, from the Letter to the Colossians is depicted in the Madonna standing behind our choir. Here we see the Firstborn of all creation, a child enthroned on his mother’s lap. She is the receptive human agent of exchange by which the Creator becomes a creature. The angels above, who evoke the thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, hold crystal spheres representing creation, the phenomenal world.
No child sits so upright, with such dignity and authority; this is a symbolic, not representational art. This is no ordinary child but the primordial Firstborn and Ancient of days, newer than tomorrow and older than time itself.
Thus is the eternal dimension of Christ’s Kingship.
The image of his kingship in history, described in today’s Gospel, hangs over the altar. Here we see Jesus of Nazareth stripped of all dignity, slumping in death. His life-blood is received by the Eucharistic chalice beneath his feet, as Mary received the divine life of her son quickening in her womb. Beneath the hill of Golgotha is the skull of the first Adam, the author of death, but redeemed by the sacrifice of the Second Adam above. The footrest beneath Jesus’ feet is slanted, like the scales of justice, weighed down on one side by the thief who curses him, but rising on the other side like the thief who puts his trust in Jesus.
Such is the image of true Kingship in its temporal dimension: the sacrifice, the exchange of life for death, of death transmuted into redeemed life, the mystery into which we are again incorporated in this hour, at this altar.
Here and now, Kingship renounces pomp and privilege for the privilege of sacrifice and service, the King who gives his life for his people, as in eternity the kingly exchange of divinity and mortality makes our existence possible.