From the Pastor – November 21, 2010

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.  As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Lk 23:35-38)

How many times have we gazed at a crucifix and seen that inscription: “I.N.R.I.” We know it means something about Jesus being “King of the Jews,” even if we don’t remember that it comes from the first letters of the Latin inscription meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum. The key is understanding what’s behind that inscription. Is it just a “mocking” inscription provided by Pontius Pilate? Was it placed there to enrage the Jewish Sanhedrin? Or is it part of God the Father’s providential plan to reveal His Son to us?

To understand the role of Jesus as King, we have to understand a little bit of the Jewish concept of Messiah (literally meaning “someone anointed”), a term used in the Old Testament to describe a king who was traditionally anointed with holy oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25. In Jewish eschatology the term referred to a future Jewish King from the Davidic line, who will be “anointed” and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age.

And here’s where Jesus comes in. He comes to fulfill those prophecies. He’s from the Davidic line; He ushers in a new age of the Messiah; He spends the majority of his preaching ministry focusing on one thing: the Kingdom of God. After the Apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they began to fearlessly proclaim Jesus as “the Christ,” Christ being the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah.

And so we celebrate this weekend the Solemnity of Christ the King. We place Him as King of our world (since He made it and governs it); as Kings of ourselves (since He made us); and Kings of our destiny (since He has ascended to the Father to prepare a place for us).
But nowhere is Christ’s “kingship” more apparent than on the cross. By dying for us, Jesus gave us the most radical notion of leadership. The King loves us – His subjects – so much that He leads not by a command, but by an example. He died first. And we follow. That’s how we reach the kingdom.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty