Reflection: Sunday 20 November

Readings: Col 1:12-20; Luke 25:34-43

‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (John 18:36). This quote from John’s Gospel is at the heart of our understanding of today’s feast of Christ the King. There have been many times over the centuries when the Church has adopted a triumphal persona – aligning itself with temporal power, including crowning kings, queens and emperors. But this is not the type of king that Jesus is. It is not just a matter of a correct understanding of the type of king that Jesus is and what God’s reign looks like but this feast provides a salutary lesson to us about power and how we should wield it.

The second reading gives us an idea of the scope of the Christ – universal: ‘in him, all things hold together’. Take a moment to ponder that – and let it blow your mind! It doesn’t really matter where you start, on the macro level of the vastness of space with all its galaxies or the micro level of the sub-atomic, along with everything in between. ‘in him, all things hold together’ – now there’s a statement!

Since Jesus Christ is king, what does his reign look like? Paul tells us that God’s reign comes through a Greek word that is translated as ‘righteousness’. Rather than leap to ‘self-righteous’ with its pejorative connotations, the Greek word can also be translated as ‘justice’ and ‘right relationships’. Those are words we humans can get our heads around more easily, emphasising the relational nature of our salvation: ‘whenever you did this to one of the least of these members of my family, you did it to me’ (Matt 25:40). 

If we humans hold power over others, then we need to use that power to promote justice and right relationships. This is the servant leadership of Jesus at the foot washing of the disciples: ‘So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you’. Such is the kingship of Jesus. 

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