Jesus rules as king of our hearts, king of the universe

By: By Shawn Reeves

Solemnity of Christ the King, Nov. 25

Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93:1,1-2,5; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37

The King has arrived! Though some kings have been despots and treacherous brutes, the idea of a noble king seems to have captivated the song and literature of most Western cultures at some point in their history.

This fascination with the idea of the king seems to echo even in our culture. “The Lion King” carries an appeal that “The Lion President” just cannot suffice. Questions of ideal political system aside, the king will forever remain, in the imagination of men, as the singular symbol of a united people under one cause and purpose, directed by a unique and galvanizing champion of the good — a symbolism patently obvious to any little boy with a plastic crown and a wooden sword.

Perhaps, though, this phenomenon runs even deeper than this. Perhaps the human soul, crafted in the image of the Great Sovereign of the Universe, has a natural inclination to perceive some sign of his Creator in the things around him. The king displays before humanity a particular semblance of those attributes of our God that we find especially noble and dynamic — a Creator who triumphantly leads his creatures and secures them in safety, a Lord whose protection is impervious and whose power is unparalleled, a God passionately committed to His people in tireless combat against what imperils their well-being and pioneering a domain of tranquility.

Whatever the cause, the notion of the king is linked to God’s providence throughout the whole of Scripture. Every reading this Sunday (including the Psalm) makes use of this imagery, bringing to fulfillment our cycle of readings and closing the liturgical year with the clear pronouncement that Jesus, savior and redeemer, is king and “center of the universe and of history” (John Paul II, “Redemptor Hominis,” No.1).

The Divine King is found “like a Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” and in victory has “received dominion, glory, and kingship . . . an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away.” In His resurrected glory, His sacred humanity embodies the exultation, “the Lord is king; he is robed in majesty,” a declaration announced from His very flesh in the transfiguration, shouted from it anew in His mysterious and triumphant encounter with St. Paul on the road to Damascus, and proclaimed eternally as the heavenly realm rejoices “to him be glory and power forever and ever.”

And, yet, “king” itself seems even too weak to describe this majesty and dominion. When Pilate pointedly remarks to Jesus, “Then you are a king?” Jesus simply replies, “You say I am a king.” Having already professed kingship (“my kingdom in not here”), Jesus here seems to say that His Kingship exceeds our notion of king, that Pilate’s assessment of Jesus as king is still too meager. For this King is “firstborn of the dead,” triumphantly leading his creatures into life and pioneering freedom “from our sins by His blood.” Here is a King “who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

The Orphic worshipers of ancient Greece would often declare, “Zeus is the first, and Zeus is the last; from Zeus all things come.” Jesus declares in our second reading, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8; 21:6), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In this, He announces that the absolute rule of Zeus, Caesar, and any other “lords” of the human heart has come to a close — the “ruler of the kings” has mounted his throne.

Jesus is the true first and last, the true origin and destiny of all things. He challenges us, His people, to persevere in adoring Him as our “Alpha and Omega,” the essential source and goal of the whole of our lives, King of our hearts and King of the universe.


SHAWN REEVES has served as the director of religious education at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign since 2001. He and his family are members of St. Malachy’s Parish in Rantoul.

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