Daily Reflection
November 21st, 2004
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Liturgical Year is a time-journey which invites the faithful to learn of God’s ways. This yearly reminder and re-calling takes place through the communal reflecting upon the history of the Jewish people as well as their learning of the person of Jesus the Christ and His early followers. The faithful are invited during these days of grace to ponder whether or not Jesus will make a new history in the lives of His later followers.

Through His coming and the listening to the ancient prophets, the faithful become attracted to Christ’s ways. He is born a human, encounters the human frailties which lead Him to His death and Resurrection. This final Sunday of the Liturgical Year is a celebration for those followers who have been so attracted to Jesus that they allow Him to influence deeply their own life’s actions as did, long ago, a king dominate, or direct the actions of the king’s followers.

We pray this day to kneel down before the Throne of the Cross in joyful recognition that Jesus’ ways have become part of our ways with a desire that this process of becoming more of a follower continue during the next Liturgical Year which begins next Sunday. It is not anything like a Final Exam about whether Jesus is dominating our every action and attitude; we still remain in need of recovery, redemption and rising of heart and spirit. We are invited to pray for patience in our time-journeys. We pray also with the confidence that the God who journeyed with our Jewish ancestors through their liturgical years with deserts, battles and exiles, will accompany us as well through our own deserts, battles and temptations.

David has had a long road from his being a young tender of sheep to becoming king of Judah and then all of Israel. His journey put him in conflict with his own father and the people of Jerusalem. He had made grave mistakes and yet trusted always in the God who had called him. He lived the saying, that God does not call the equip, but equips the called. David had made great conquests and so trusted in the God who had accompanied his battles.

In our short First Reading for this Feast of Christ the King, we hear of the elders from Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Israel coming to David and announcing that they now know David as their own and their king. All the tribes come together to David’s town of Hebron and acknowledge that God has always been with him and they desire that he be now the shepherd of God’s entire flock.

In David’s time being a king was more than an honor. For Israel, the king was part military, part spiritual leader. God had been faithful through all the battles which formed their national identity as God’s chosen and protected people. There was a strong connection between God’s power and the military prowess of the nation. David was seen as a man of God and a man who enjoyed God’s power in battle.

“Monarchy is something kept behind a curtain about which there is a great deal of bustle and fuss and a wonderful air of seeming solemnity. But when by any accident the curtain happens to be opened and the company see what it is, they burst into laughter.” - Thomas Paine

It is the great feast of Christ the King and we have a rather different view of king than that which David enjoyed among his people. Our Gospel pictures Jesus as a radically different monarch. He is nailed to His throne and seemingly defeated. His power is depleted and all have abandoned Him. He is mocked and laughed at by those who see the inscription above His throne. “This is the king of the Jews.”

In the quotation above, Thomas Paine, a prominent political writer during the American Revolution against the British in 1775 wrote bitterly against the royalty which was oppressing the American colonies. Monarchy is much to do about little, in his eyes and when it is seen for what it is not, mockery and laughter result.

The curtain of God’s Monarchy is removed revealing Jesus on the Cross. The “elders” and “soldiers” laugh at such a kingly sight. “Much to do about nothing,” they are saying. The curtain has been opened and what is laughed at is the mystery of just how deeply God loves even the one criminal who knows his guilt and asks for mercy. The mercy is there before he asks; the cross is a permanent statement of the Kingdom of Mercy. It is a cause for laughter in a way on our parts as well, or at least a smile, the smile of having our logic confounded by love.

David came to his throne through the power of might. Jesus comes to His Throne through the power of weakness. His being King means that the weakness of human beings as represented by the “mercied-thief”is embraced by the weakness of Christ’s human frailty enthroned. The throne is established, the power of mercy is now “uncurtained.” While the proud jeer, the powerful stand triumphantly, we reverently smile at all that has been revealed by the curtain of God’s monarchy’s being non-accidentally opened.

You are a different King and Your Monarchy embraces even that which excludes us even from our own society.

“The Lord will reign for ever and will give his people the gift of peace.”
Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook