Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Nov. 21: Solemnity of Christ the King
The first reading is about David who was made king of Israel by the leaders of Hebron. (Hebron is about 20 miles south of Jerusalem). A “man after God’s own heart” (1 Sm 13:14) David represented the ideal king, prefiguring Christ who was to come. Not long after his anointing God makes a covenant with David saying “Your throne shall be established forever” (1 Sm 7:16). But David’s kingdom didn’t last. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom split in two. A few centuries later Jerusalem was destroyed and the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, was sent into exile. The promise to David seemed lost.
This week’s second reading is a magnificent hymn about Christ who rules over the cosmos, and each individual. The first part of the reading is probably an allusion to baptism through which God has made us “fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones,” having received “redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The second part extols Christ as the agent of creation, head of the Church and mediator of our salvation.
In the Gospel reading the kingship of Christ is demonstrated by the thief on the cross who recognized his imperial status when he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The sign on the cross was meant as a warning to all would-be messiahs; that the fate of Jesus would be their fate if they dared cross Rome. In reality, it was prophetic.
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”:
Pope Benedict XVI:
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. For information on subscribing to "Breaking Open the Word, click here. For archives click here.