Christ the King

November 25, 2018

Apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Daniel in today’s First Reading, presents symbols and images that can easily lead to misinterpretations. Apocalyptic literature, taken literally, leads to interpretations of violence, destruction, and the end of the world. Some even assume that it is coded biblical literature that contains “secrets” about the end of time.

However, the word “apocalypse” in Greek means “unveiling” or “a lifting of the veil.” Authors of apocalyptic literature, such as Daniel, use symbols and images to convey their message, inviting us to “lift the veil” in order to better understand the message. Apocalyptic literature is, in its essence, about God’s revelation, the unveiling of God’s plan for humanity. Although mostly in the Old Testament, this type of literature appears in the New Testament as well, including parts of Mark’s Gospel which we heard last Sunday, and John’s Book of Revelation.

Typically, these books are written in times of persecution, giving believers the strength to endure their current crisis by fixing their eyes on God who ultimately controls the destiny of history. Focusing on God in times of trial gives people peace of heart and hope for the future that God will eventually establish His Kingdom. Faith, trusting in God, is the foundation.

Today’s Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 after WWI in response to the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism. He wrote in the encyclical Quas Primas, “He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things and cleave to him alone."

In the Book of Daniel, a central image is the “son of man,” who is simply a human being. This son of man symbolizes a different kind of kingdom. His kingdom is an everlasting dominion that cannot be destroyed. This foretells the Kingdom of God, and Jesus uses the image “Son of man” to refer to himself.

The Kingdom of God begins with the birth of Jesus, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” His presence continues today as we strive to build a world of love, peace, and goodness. It continues into the future as God fully establishes this kingdom. God’s kingdom manifests itself when love, peace, and justice are present and abiding. It is in those moments that we crown Christ the King of our world.

Kathryn Richards