A reflection by Fr. Frank Hegel, SFM, on Daniel 7.13-14, Revelation 1.5-8 and John 18.33-37
When I was preparing to be ordained a deacon in Chiclayo, Peru, I spoke with Fr. Hugh MacDougall about the necessity of having a printed invitation done or whether a verbal invitation was sufficient. He left the decision with me but counseled me that should I decide to proceed with a written invitation, to make sure that I saw the proofread it before the printing. He proceeded to tell me about how on his own ordination invitation, he had asked for a cover depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus and it came back with the picture of the Infant Jesus of Prague.
Now these are two quite different images of Jesus. The statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague presents the Infant Jesus wearing fine garments and crowned, his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding the world. It is perhaps the best popular known devotion to Jesus as king. It was not the image that Fr. Hugh wanted to project. But the printer did not know that, and since he couldn’t find the die for the image of the Sacred Heart, he replaced it with the Infant Jesus of Prague, thinking it was a good substitute.
The problem lay in the fact that the printer was unaware of several things. The only crown Jesus ever wore was a crown of thorns. The only throne Jesus ever sat on was the cross. The only scepter he ever held in his hand was a reed put there by the soldiers who mocked him. The only royal robes he ever wore were the robes put on him during his passion by these same soldiers. The only road to kingship he ever walked was the road to Jerusalem and, within the city, the way of the cross – a far cry from the certain road of royal inheritance that the ten remaining monarchies in Europe know today. The only royal proclamation Jesus made consisted of his lived testimony to the truth.
This is the image of Jesus we should have when we celebrate the kingship of Jesus – an image of sacrificial love for others. The care we give to others is the care we give to Jesus and this will be the wealth that we will take to the next life.
Rather than talk about Jesus as King, we should be talking about Jesus’ project – the kin-dom he has come to establish. This kindom exists when, as the preface for today’s Mass states: we promote life and truth, respect it and dignify it; we live according to the norms of solid justice; we live in real fraternal love; we construct peace in our fractured world.
This feast is an invitation to all of us to examine the tension within us that develops because we live in a world whose values are not the values of Jesus’ kindom. It invites us to analyze how our spirituality, our holiness, and the way we belong to Christ’s kindom, is aiding us in our struggle to free ourselves from the tensions of the world and our own egos.
This feast is also an invitation to all those who have power and authority of any kind to compare their use of power with Jesus. Are they using their power for the building up of a more just society or to feather their own nests? Are they using their power in any way that might cause pain on others or in a way that could help to alleviate pain?
When we pray “thy kingdom come” in the Lord’s Prayer, we are affirming that we hope that our actions are leading to the creation of the kingdom of God here and now.