For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This Feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Seeing the devastation caused by World War I, Pius established this Feast as a way to remind people that Christ is Lord of both heaven and earth. Initially this Feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but when the Roman Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar in 1969 it was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year. (The new liturgical year always begins with the Fist Sunday of Advent.)
Our readings this Sunday have an apocalyptic tone. As I have said previously, apocalyptic writing is very stylized. It uses vivid imagery and dramatic language, as well as visionary and prophetic images to make its point. Apocalyptic language was used in times of trail or difficulty to assure people that despite the suffering of the present moment, God was with them and ultimately would triumph. Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally.
Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John. It is the scene of Jesus before Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus reminds Pilate and us that “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” While ostensibly Pilate is in charge of this encounter, from John’s perspective (and ours) Jesus is the one who is in control.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. It is part of Daniel’s vision in which he saw “one like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” to be present to the “Ancient One.” We would see this language as prefiguring Christ.
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Revelation. It is a hymn of praise for Christ. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who had made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- We aren’t big on royalty in the United States. How would you explain Christ the King to an unbeliever?
- What would you say to someone who takes a literal approach to apocalyptic literature?
- What are the hallmarks of one who tries to live as a member of the Kingdom of God?