King of the Universe
I have several sick children to take care of (no, really, I had to miss mass today because I was taking care of them), so I must be quick, BUT. I just had to show you this picture for this feast day!
You see, it’s the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, which is a fantastic feast day for soooo many different reasons. It’s at the very end of our Liturgical Season, which reminds us that in the end Jesus is King and Lord over everything. And if that doesn’t make you want to jump for joy, I don’t know what will!
And so! The readings for the day are geared to show the glory and splendor of God and His role as the King of the Universe. Just check out the first reading:
13As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heavenOne like a son of man.When he reached the Ancient of Daysand was presented before him,14He received dominion, splendor, and kingship;all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him.His dominion is an everlasting dominionthat shall not pass away,his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.
Even the psalm gets us excited about this feast day!
1The LORD is king, robed with majesty;the LORD is robed, girded with might.The world will surely stand in place,never to be moved.2Your throne stands firm from of old;you are from everlasting.3The flood has raised up, LORD;the flood has raised up its roar;the flood has raised its pounding waves.4More powerful than the roar of many waters,more powerful than the breakers of the sea,powerful in the heavens is the LORD.5Your decrees are firmly established;holiness befits your house, LORD,for all the length of days.
Then the second reading, which delves into Revelation!
5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever [and ever]. Amen.7Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,and every eye will see him,even those who pierced him.All the peoples of the earth will lament him.Yes. Amen.8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
And so! I just had to share this beautiful artwork of Christ robed in majesty! Take a look…
Isn’t it fantastic?! If it looks familiar, it’s probably because I made sure to put it in my book, The Glorious Mysteries, because it seemed appropriately glorious enough for that book. But I digress! Let’s look at some of the imagery involved…
In His right hand, Christ is holding a rod or scepter that has the cross prominently on it, as a nod to His Kingship. After all, at the time this painting was made, kings would hold rods very similar with the cross prominently emblazoned on the very top to symbolize the king’s divine right to rule. And so, when viewers of this painting would see such a scepter in Christ’s hand, they would instantly recognize it as a symbol which depicted Christ’s Kingship over all.
In His left hand, in which His hand can be seen as visibly pierced, Christ is resting on a globe which represents the world. You can see the oceans and land swirled together, even! And He seems to grip it with power, indicating His strength and presence on the Earth.
Underneath His left foot, His foot rests on a skull, indicating His glorious triumph over death, in which He destroyed death entirely. And, crushed under the weight of the skull is a snake, signalling Christ’s defeat over Satan himself. Satan is powerless against Christ! In fact, Satan is so pathetic and tiny compared to Christ that he looks to be just a tiny little thing
All around Him are angel attendants. One wraps a red robe over Christ, as a reminder of Christ’s Passion. Another one helps hold the world, reminding us that God has given us angelic assistance. And then another one holds a palm to worship Christ.
But Christ is definitely at the forefront of it all! His wounds are prominently displayed, and yet He is depicted as being powerful and kingly.
Which takes us to the next reading… the gospel reading.
33So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
A more realistic depiction of this exchange would probably be this artwork of Pilate talking with Jesus (and trust me, it’s an amazing artwork that definitely needs to be looked at). But, at the same time, consider what Jesus is saying when He talks to Pilate.
He is a King.
He is the King of Kings!
And yet, He submits Himself under Pilate — some dinky prefect of Judaea serving under Caesar a long time ago — to die for us. Despite the fact that He is King over all. Despite the fact that this image probably fails to capture the real glory of God, even though it is very glorious. Despite the fact that He has angelic attendants that would do anything for Him.
Because He loves us that much.
And He wanted to destroy death so that we may become one with God.
So, as we prepare our hearts for Advent — and thus for Christ entering into our world once more! — let us remember His glory and His love for us.
And let us always let Him be King in our lives.