JESUS THE HOLY FOOL
Because Christ himself suffered every indignity, every grief, every outrage --and has triumphed--so, too, will we overcome all that afflicts us. Laughter brings relief; betrayal, disappointment, torture and death are not the final realities after all...
This laughter, this awareness, this vindication --all usher in the new age, the age of the Holy Spirit. Because of what happened in Jesus and through Jesus, the world's stage is set for comic action, that is, for the mending of the broken circle, for the healing of fragmented society. And the agents of this trans- formation of consciousness are the same followers of Jesus who abandoned him, denied him, lost hope and hid. By extension, we, in all our frailty and poverty, follow in their footsteps. In this new age, therefore, the reign of God will be ushered in by the spiritually poor and the socially marginalized, and, in this, too, there is cause for rejoicing, amazement and laughter. God, in God's Foolishness, chooses the weak and powerless of this world to accomplish great and wonderful works. God's work, it seems, can be done through the cooperation of anyone upon whom the Holy Spirit chooses to rest.
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- When you think of Christ the King, what images of Jesus come to mind?
- Does Jesus' title of "King" deepen your faith or leave you feeling alienated?
- Who is the Cosmic Christ and how do you relate to him?
It was on December 11th, 1925, that Pope Pius XI released his encyclical,
The Feast of Christ the King
should be celebrated across the world on a yearly basis.
This proclamation of the Kingship of Christ was based on prophetic texts which pointed to the coming of God's Anointed One, the Infancy Narratives, Jesus' own words about his mission, the writings of St. Paul and writings which emerged in the first centuries of Christianity. The tradition of Christ's Kingship, then, already had an established history; in fact, one of the earliest depictions of Jesus is a magnificent mosaic in which he sits regally among his sheep, vested in royal gold and purple (C. 425,
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
, Ravenna, Italy).
Why, then, was there a need to celebrate a reality that was already central to Christianity? The encyclical itself provides the answer: only when the nations of the world submit to the rule of Christ will there be an end to:
"bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin"
Nearly a hundred years after the issuing of
our world is even more secular. anti-religious and driven by fanatical nationalism. The ills decried by Pius XI have multiplied in ways he could have never imagined, heaping horror upon horror to the point that the very survival of humanity is at stake. Selfishness and greed run rampant, giving rise to mind-boggling corruption, a culture of lies and deceit, and the total erosion of human decency. The only antidote for Christians is, as the encyclical urges, to allow Christ to reign in our minds, our wills, our hearts and our bodies; only then is there hope for humanity.
God delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
For most Christians, the
Feast of Christ the King
presents familiar images of Jesus of Nazareth either proclaiming the Kingdom of God through his preaching and miracles, or else being mocked as an earthly king, or, with his post-resurrection appearances, conquering sin and Death. Though we understand that Jesus' Kingdom is "not of this world" (Jn 18:36) we still tend to view this Kingdom through worldly imagery. Religious art, for example, often portrays Jesus wearing a crown and carrying either an orb or scepter to symbolize his authority; this same art, however, seldom succeeds in conveying the mystical dimensions of Jesus' kingship.
The magnificent hymn from the
Letter to the Colossians
transports us beyond images,
expanding our understanding of the Kingship of Christ; it takes us beyond Jesus in his humanity to a Kingdom that reaches into eternity and stretches across the Cosmos. The Jesus of the Gospels receives power and glory on account of his obedience, but the Word of God, as member of the Trinity, has held dominion over all creation for eternity. This distinction in terms of Jesus' Kingship helps us understand Paul's claims that: 1) "all things were created in him and for him" ; 2) Christ is the center of all things, holding everything together; 3) he is both an image of the invisible God and also preeminent among creation, "the first born from the dead"; 4) he is the head of the church; 5) in him all fullness dwells; 6) he has reconciled all things to himself through the blood of the cross.
Christ as King rules over the heavens and the earth, over all beings, whether earthly or ethereal, human or angelic. His Kingdom is no small reality but is as vast as the Cosmos, embracing worlds we have never seen or dreamed of. Against this backdrop, humanity seems so flawed and insignificant, so unaware and wayward. In our pride, we assume we are the center of the universe and act as though entitled to the blessings God lavishes upon us. Today's Feast reminds us that there is only one King at the center and only one King worthy of being there. The first step in our transformation is to bow before the Throne of Thrones, letting go of all idols, especially our inflated ego's!