Solemnity of Christ the King
A different type of king
Points to note
The Solemnity of Christ the King, which falls on the last Sunday of the liturgical year (the following Sunday starts off the season of Advent), is a rather recent feastday, having been instituted in 1925. Pope Benedict XVI wanted to remind Italians that their allegiance was not to the dictator Benito Mussolini, who was in power at that time, but to Jesus. He drew contrast between Mussolini and Jesus in the way they exercised their kingship: Mussolini by violence and Jesus by love.
Actually, kings are getting to be a rather rare breed. There are 42 reigning monarchs in the world today, of whom 8 are Christian kings (excluding the Pope), all in Europe. There are two Queens, the Pope two Africans, four Buddhists, and the rest Muslims. So really, only eight men in the world today fit our conventional image of a king.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
(Jn 18: 33-37)
‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked. Jesus replied, ‘Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ ‘So you are a king then?’ said Pilate. ‘It is you who say it’ answered Jesus. ‘Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Have you ever met a king before? Very few of us have ever met kings. So, you can always extend it to queens and presidents. But, best to keep to kings and queens because children like the pomp and ceremony.
Discuss how the kings, queens and presidents are welcomed when we meet them. They come in a big huge limousine. There arelots of people around them, to serve them. They don’t have to lift a finger to do anything and I bet they do not have a wallet. The Queen of England may go around with a lovely handbag but it probably doesn’t have any money in it.
Discuss how you are supposed to behave when you meet kings, queens and presidents. There are certain protocols when meeting royalty. You address them as Your Highness or Mr/Mrs President or Your Excellency. You know, you are not supposed to touch the Queen: you bow (for boys) or curtsy (if girl) instead. You speak politely and cannot munch your food loudly. Later, someone will come and usher you away.
They also have security guards around them because of the danger that someone could shoot them. After all four American presidents have been shot and many kings of England murdered (ok, the last one was beheaded in 1649).
Contrast it with Jesus. How did Jesus get around? How did he enter Jerusalem? Ask the children to imagine, their king, queen or president arriving to visit them on a donkey.
Discuss how people treated him when he visited. They were respectful but not overly deferential – nobody bowed or curtsied to him. In fact they expected him to do work: heal them, feed them, teach them. At times, he had to show people where to fish, he washed their feet. Also, he had bodyguards because he ruled by love and not in fear. If anyone wanted to kill him, he would have let them do it willingly. Which he did.
Explain that nobody was deferential to him and he didn’t expect anyone to be. This is because he was a king who came to serve. A Christian king is not supposed to be lording over everyone else. Christian kings and Christian leaders are expected to be humble and help anyone who need help in any way.
Explain that when we were baptised, we were anointed priest, prophet and king. The role of the king that we take on is the kingship of Jesus, the kingship of service.
Today is the feast of Christ the King. It is the feast day of all of us as kings together with Jesus. But it is not a day when we show our power to everyone. It is a day to remember to serve in humility everyone who needs help.
If you have time, link it up last year’s reading of the Last Judgement and who Jesus is whom we see around us.