In God’s beloved Son, we are given a ‘better and more satisfying kingdom’

Shawn Reeves

By Shawn Reeves

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe/Nov. 24

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

In a time and place forged by the egalitarian ideals of our nation’s founders, it can be hard to see why we should celebrate Christ as King. At the same time, many modern Americans hold fast to romanticized images of kings of ages past, a nostalgia for a time we have never experienced but, nonetheless, appears in our imaginations as more ordered, stable, and secure. That is the nature of nostalgia. Many others identify monarchy with tyranny and oppression.

From figures like King Arthur and Charlemagne on the one side to George III and the ancient Roman emperors on the other, in just a few hundred years kingship has become so much legend to us, that the biblical illustrations of monarchy are often lost on us, displaced from our actual daily experiences.

As we today celebrate Christ as King of the Universe, we see that David’s kingship presents itself as a pattern that finds its fulfillment in Christ’s Kingship.

Yet there was such joyful nostalgia preserved in Jewish culture for the kingship of David that the people announce, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, as we hear in today’s Gospel acclamation. From the moment the angel Gabriel declared that “the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father . . . and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:32),” Jesus’ entire identity became inseparably linked to the ever-present hope and expectation that David’s kingship would be restored and returned to them one day. And this is precisely because the restoration David’s kingship came to be identified with the coming of a new, Messianic age.

While the rulers sneer at Jesus on the cross, judging Christ’s kingship exclusively in terms of his autonomy and powers of self-preservation, Jesus (and David before him) offer an alternative model of rule. In our first reading, David’s kinship to the people is emphasized as they announce, “here we are your bone and your flesh.” David is pronounced not just King but “Shepherd” over Israel, a harkening to David’s first occupation and an obligation to rule, not for the sake of self but for the welfare of the people. And in response to this call to serve as Shepherd-King, our reading says he “made an agreement with them there before the Lord.”

But this was no ordinary agreement. The word in Hebrew is Berit — a covenant. And to seal it, representatives from all the tribes anoint him King David, the Anointed Shepherd-King who “led the Israelites out and brought them back” from the threat and destruction of the Philistines.


As we today celebrate Christ as King of the Universe, we see that David’s kingship presents itself as a pattern that finds its fulfillment in Christ’s Kingship.

In our Gospel, Jesus is mockingly referred to as “King of the Jews” and “the Christ (Anointed) of God.” Just as the people were David’s “bone and flesh,” so, too, Jesus is the “head of the body, the Church.” Just as David led and delivered the people from ruin, so, also, in Jesus, “the firstborn from the dead,” we have been “delivered . . . from the power of darkness.” Just as David was anointed by the people, so Jesus is the Anointed One, Christ and Messiah. And just as David established a covenant with them, so, also, Jesus would “reconcile all things . . . making peace by the blood of the cross.” Rather than saving Himself, Jesus hangs upon the cross as the Divine Anointed Shepherd-King in whom “all things hold together.”

Hebrew nostalgia ached for a renewed reign of David. Instead, the Father “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” a better and more satisfying kingdom.

Perhaps, the appeal of nostalgia is not so much a longing for the past as a yearning for the future. The heart pines for things we perceive being abandoned and trapped in forgotten eras, a respite from the disorder and confusion of our present times. What nostalgia really wishes to reclaim is nothing less than a foretaste of heavenly kingdom. What nostalgia truly seeks are the words, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

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 attend St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Thomasboro.

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