34th Sunday, Year A: Feast of Christ the King
(1Cor: 15:20-26 and 28; Mt. 25:31-46)
In his book “The Little Prince”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry observed that to Kings all other humans are “subjects”. In Jesus, the incarnation of the Verb (Jn.1:14), the phrase inspired by the Scripture “To serve God is to reign” is realized. We are “a people of priests, a people of Kings”, as the Prince of the Apostles has emphasized (1P 2:9). Christ, once more, frees us from arbitrariness, the “resolve for power”, and the abuse of power, too unfortunate and all too common among the “big” in this world. His royalty does not enslave us. On the contrary, it is He who made himself of no reputation (literally “He humbled himself”) and took upon him the form of a slave (cf. Ph. 2:5ff).
The first epistle to the Corinthians speaks of the Son. He is King by his divinity and his resurrection (15:20ff). “In the end, the Son shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father … for the Son must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy destroyed is death! And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” Unfortunately, it is so simple to cite these verses against the full divinity of Christ. In the East rather than the West, objectors exclaim “Here, the Father is different and separate from the Son: here, the Son submits!” But one must read the entire Bible, in all its text and context, in the analogy of faith and the “knowledge and consistency” advocated by St. Peter (2P. 3:16). The Father and the Son are one in the sole divine nature.
But, in view of the Son’s humanity, the Father is greater than the Son. In this sense, it is the humanity of Christ that shall submit to His divinity, in the hierarchy of beings and values, in a substantial unity “for in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
Let us quote our saint bishop Cyril of Jerusalem (15th Baptismal Catecheses 1): “The other advent of Christ brings the crown of the Divine royalty. … In this event, light shall envelop him like a cloak … He comes escorted by an army of Angels, glorified. Therefore, we are not only certain of the first advent, but also we await the second, and just as we have said of the first: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 21: 9), likewise we shall reiterate for the second, so that having come with the Angels in front of the Lord, our adoration will tell him: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” The Saviour comes, not to be judged again, but to judge those who judged Him! He that started by being silent when he was judged (Mt. 26:62; 27:12), he will remind the wretches of their insolence as they made him suffer on the cross, when he says: “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence” (cf. Ps. 50 (49), 21 a). Then, He has come to realize the plan of salvation, to teach men through persuasion, but in his coming they would have, be it against their wish, to bend over for his royalty!”
We, we want to bend over willingly to this King who made us reign and who is “meek and humble of heart”!
By Fr. Peter Madros