Though he is closer than any other king, and no other king can follow him, still it is up to us to belong to his kingdom ....
How is it that someone becomes a king? In most cases, kings are born by birth. Sometimes kings are elected, perhaps from among groups of nobility. In most cases though royal duty passes from parent to child. Kings serve the nation by carrying on the family duties of administration, leading public ceremonies, and contributing to political discourse. Think of the roles of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, or Felipe VI, King of Spain. The title and responsibility of kingship are handed down.
Such is the case with Christ. The only begotten Son of the Father, he inherits the glory, the grandeur of our Heavenly Father. It is his by birth.
But Christ is not just another king. He receives his kingship from his Father. He reigns, teaches, judges, and loves like other kings. And yet his kingship is far grander. Christ is the lord of lords; he is the king of kings.
How is Christ’s kingship different?
God had planned to rule his people as their king. When God first led Israel out of Egypt, he intended to govern Israel himself. The Lord told Moses, “If you obey me completely and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites” (Exod. 19:5-6). While all things in heaven and under heaven belong to God, he had chosen Israel to belong to himself.
Some translations say the Lord had chosen Israel to be peculiarly his own. This is the first way that Christ’s kingship is different. Unlike other sovereigns, Christ is not far from us. It is not difficult to get an audience with Christ. We need not wade through crowds to get a glimpse of him. Christ dwells near to us. He is our King and we belong peculiarly to him. We are closer to him than even other servants or palace workers. He is ours.
Another way Christ’s kingship is different, is that there will not be another heir in his line. Christ, the only begotten and beloved Son of the Father, receives his kingship from his heavenly Father. He will not, however, pass it down. There is no further successor to Christ’s throne. There will be no other King after him. He is the chosen King. The entire line was established that he might one day reign.
David, the second king of Israel, is an important type for Christ. By his successful wars, David established Jerusalem as the chief city of Israel. Jerusalem became a center of worship, when David brought the ark of the covenant there. David would be rewarded by God for his efforts to unite his people and for his piety.
But David did not accomplish everything. The task of building Israel’s temple would fall to his heir, Solomon. Solomon’s heirs would face the challenges of a divided kingdom and of foreign invasions.
Christ’s line sees no decay, no future tasks. He has brought all things to fruition by ascending his heavenly throne. He is our great king, the one expected one, who was sought after for the ages.
Finally, Christ’s kingship demands we recognize him as our sovereign in our way of life. Other kings simply demand taxes or tribute. The homage paid to the kings of this world is largely ceremonial. But Christ, our true king, offers an even greater promise of union. He does not ask that we show our allegiance merely by tithes and hymns of praise. He wants our hearts, our lives to be given over to him. To conform our lives, to be united with him is our goal as Christ’s subjects.
But such kingship can be resisted. Pope Benedict XVI teaches,
The way to reach this goal is long and admits of no shortcuts: indeed, every person must freely accept the truth of God’s love. He is Love and Truth, and neither Love nor Truth are ever imposed: they come knocking at the doors of the heart and the mind and where they can enter they bring peace and joy.
On this great solemnity the question we must ask ourselves is: Will I let Christ rule in my heart? The temptation to climb the barricades, to rebel against the love and will of Christ is very great. Today, on this solemn feast, let us declare our hearts territory ruled by divine love. Let us announce our loyalty to Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King.