Jeremiah 23:1-6; Canticle 16 (i.e. Luke 1:68-79); or Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43
“I dare you, who think life is humdrum, to become involved. I dare you who are weak to become strong; you who are dull to be sparkling; you who are slaves to be kings.” – William Danforth
What could we possibly know about kings on this feast of Christ the King? Kings are pretty much obsolete. Well, almost. There are 196 countries in the world. Twenty-six of them have monarchs. Twenty –four of those are male: kings, sultans, emperors, sheikhs, princes or grand dukes. Two are queens. However, twenty-three of all these are constitutional governments with varying degrees of democracy. Only three are absolute monarchs. Today’s Gospel was chosen for this feast because three times Jesus is mentioned as king: by the soldiers at the cross (Luke 23:37), on the inscription nailed to the cross (Luke 23:38), and by the criminal (see Greek below) asking to be remembered when Jesus comes into his kingdom. Unless we live in one of those three absolute dictatorship countries, kings don’t mean much to us. Calling Jesus our president or prime minister does not say what the Scriptures are talking about when they call Jesus a king. They are saying that he is the absolutely most important person in our lives. It is informative to take anything we say about who Jesus is, and see what that has to do with who we are. In the early centuries of Christianity there was an attempt to make that application. In some areas of the Christian world, not everywhere, there was the understanding in their surrounding culture that the most important people were priests, prophets and kings. The Christians wanted to say that everyone was equally important. So, at their baptisms in these regions they anointed each person “priest, prophet and king.” Given the antiquity we understand their sexist language. But even the girls were anointed “king.” There are some denominations that still do this today. So Christ is our king; and we also are kings and queens, all members of the divine royal family. We indeed sparkle.
Luke 23:33 and 39 refer to the “criminals” crucified along with Jesus. In the Greek, it is a compound word, the two parts meaning “evil workers.”
Luke 23:36 says that the soldiers gave Jesus “sour wine” to drink. The Greek literally says “wine vinegar.” Tasty, right!
Once upon a throne
sat the people important.
Now sit all with Christ.