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Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King

Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

The Word This Week

The year of Saint Luke ends with a characteristic take on the feast of Christ the King: in Luke’s gospel we are so familiar with seeing and hearing the voiceless, the rejected, those whom society puts in second place: how suitable, then, that on the feast of the King of all Creation we see him at his most vulnerable – on the cross, with only an abrupt inscription to announce that he is the King. He is King because of the work he has done, which is described by Saint Paul in the Second Reading: “all things [are] reconciled through him and for him … when he made peace by his death on the cross.” Next week, when we re-enter Advent and a new Liturgical Year, we will be thinking of the King who will come again: though he will come as his disciples saw him go at the Ascension, the marks of the cross will still be visible for all time, to remind us of the one who came to reunite all Creation, especially frail human creatures.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-3

What is a king? Throughout history there have been many examples, some good, some bad, and some appalling. The story we see here is a simple historical narrative: nevertheless there is something that marks David out as a king: he was chosen by the Lord to be the “shepherd of my people Israel”, and it is “in the presence of the Lord” that he is anointed as king. While some periods of history have used this passage to justify the “divine right” of kings, it actually speaks of something much deeper: the only king is Christ, the chief shepherd of the flock – all human kings and queens, governors and leaders share in Christ’s shepherding, some better, some worse. Make sure you emphasise the word “king” whenever it appears, but also stress the role of the Lord in all this. Otherwise this should be a straightforward piece of narrative, delivered simply and directly.


Second Reading: Colossians 1:12-20

While the first reading was narrative, this is poetry – and very deep poetry at that! The unasked question here is, “Who is Christ, our King?” The long poem or hymn (printed in “sense-lines” in the Lectionary) is a hymn to Christ, which follows on from the reference which links most explicitly into today’s feast: “he … has created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves…”: make sure you emphasise this line, so that everything that follows fits into place. The poem is a wonderful summary of salvation history – everything from before the world was created to our age – the time of the Church, which is Christ’s body. Take your time, but read with a sense of praise and thanksgiving for all that God has done through Christ, our King.


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