(LAST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME)
Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 in response to the rise of totalitarianism. It celebrates Christ’s reign over the human race and human hearts. The feast emphasises God’s ultimate forgiveness as well as Christ’s eschatological return and final sovereignty over all creation. This last theme is continued during Advent.
We come to the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, and I guess that our celebration of Christ the King may cause us to think,” fair enough, but the year is not over yet!” End of year celebrations are all around us….for some, School exams are over, for others University exams have been marked, and for others, Office Christmas parties, and the like, will happen soon. Yet, in the midst of all this, we hear the resounding words of Jesus, (John 18:36) “Mine is not a Kingdom of this world”. And most certainly it is a Kingdom contrary to what our concept of a realm or Monarchy can be about. The modern Kingdom is often experienced as a reign of terror; and hence its rulers build huge images of themselves as signs of their power. We saw something like this years ago in Iraq with Suddam Hussein, and Kaddafi in Libya, let alone Syria!
Tyrannical Kings demand and command; they often rule through fear. Christ our King invites! He rules through love. Throughout the photographic album of the Gospels, we see the Shepherd-King, bringing hope to those who lived in despair and alienation, enabling the pagans and Jews to see in him, the saving hand of God.
Remember the Roman Centurion soldier standing at the foot of the Cross-, seeing the way Jesus died; he was able to say, “In truth this was a son of God”. (Matt 27:54) Christ’s presence could change beyond recognition the lives of those around him. His attitude towards sinners was one of kindness and persuasion rather than condemnation and alienation. There can be great persons who make everybody feel small….but the really great person makes everybody feel great. In that sense, Jesus was indeed a King! We are called to see Christ in each other, and be Christ to each other. What a fantastic Kingdom! Now, let’s revisit the Scripture Readings for this Sunday, and then the full picture will be painted for us.
The Prophet Daniel’s dream catches our attention…the elements in this vision have caught Artists, Movie Makers and literal minded Preachers to colour up this Heavenly vision, so much so that it can distort the intention and inherent meaning for the listeners. So what are Dreams, what are they trying to tell us? We all have had dreams, and I bet from time to time you have said to other members of your family, ‘I had a strange dream last night…..and then immediately you go on to tell them about it….’ Sometimes in the telling of the Dream to others, some clues come into focus. Other times, they can be so random that it can be a very difficult process. Well, in a nut shell, it seems that dreams are a way of processing the parables within our daily lives. For example, something might happen to you out of the ‘blue’ as we say, and we might even spontaneously tell those around us that you will probably dream about that experience or issue. At this stage it won’t be within my scope of expertise to talk with any authority on ‘Nightmares….’ So, Dreams are a way of processing the parables of our daily life! Following that through, the elements in dreams are often symbolic, but they bring to the unconsciousness within our ‘sleep time’ often very vivid pictures, so much so that in the morning, we often wonder if this or that did really happen?
So, in looking at Daniel’s dream, he starts off by saying…….’I gazed….’ let’s stay with that; gazing has Biblical connotations; simply put, it means: – Meditating….in this context having God’s Word and design as Food for Thought. Meditating is like savouring a Fry’s Turkish Delight 98% Fat Free!!!!!!Daniel’s own name adds to the import of this dream, because his name in Hebrew means ….God Judges! So it would seem that the an approximate outcome of this dream, is saying something about God as Judge, as Supreme Initiator of a Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven! Meditating is like savouring honey from the comb! This wonderful experience is done slowly……so that it can be thoroughly tasted! God’s Word in Scripture is sometimes seen as food to be eaten. The next part of the process is: – Contemplating…….that happens within a creative silence which abounds within the experience, due to the Meditation….. So it is gazing within the dream or vision. So, Daniel gazes into the Nada…the nothingness, the night, and look what he sees? In typical Apocalyptic Literary Style, we see as Daniel sees, an anointed one being led to the One of great Age……he who is the personification of wisdom, creative love, mercy, and justice, sees in the one being led to him, a reflection of God’s true self! Then as a consequence, all peoples will recognise in him, who is like unto God, all that God has ever said, done and will do. This dream is an excellent vision of hope! God’s Servant-hood Kingdom will one day reign supreme! Hence, it is an evergreen Prophecy.
The Second Reading from the Book of Revelation is connected to the first reading and Gospel of this Sunday, because it is a Solemnity. On the Ordinary Sundays of the Year, the First Reading and Gospel are bridged, but the Second Reading is a continuous reading of New Testament Letter week by week, and generally it has no intended relation to the First Reading or Gospel.
The Author of the Book of Revelation….one named John, whom we call John the Divine, saw in Jesus, the Christ, all and more than the Prophet Daniel was looking forwarded to; John sees, the Wounded Healer, the Keystone, the Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Son of God, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Emmanuel, the pre-existent Word, in fleshed in Jesus, the Christ.
The Kingdom, not of Power and Glory, or Might and Strength as the world sees it, but of servant hood, with a foot washer King; dying was the Triumph of Jesus as the greatest sign of God’s love, re breathed into life as the Triumph of the Father…….. Resurrection…….’ Mine is not a Kingdom of this world’, as we hear in today’s Gospel, the Kingdom of God lives, breathes and creates ‘truth’, hand in hand with God’s loving kindness. It is a Kingdom that can be heard, with those who have the ears to hear…….. It is a Kingdom whose presence and future mission is experienced by the recipients’…it is heard through the ears, seen with the eyes, and lived within the heart and the mind, in and through unconditional love, and fortified through the two way street of ‘prayer’.. No fancy clothes for this King! No ornate Chair for this King. No honorific worldly titles for this King, no seeking the front seats to see this King…..He will come in the back door! As St. Teresa Avila once said, and then put to Music by John Talbot:-
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.
YOURS ARE THE HANDS, YOURS ARE THE FEET, YOURS ARE THE EYES, YOU ARE HIS BODY.
Christ has no Body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks, compassion on this world. Christ has no Body now on earth but yours.
We gives thanks to God our Father, for his Son, the faithful witness to his truth. When we celebrate the memorial of his death and resurrection, we proclaim the kingship of him who was lifted up on the Cross.