Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feast of Christ the King

In the traditional calendar, the last Sunday of October is the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel comes from John 18:33-37, and reads:
At that time, Pilate said to Jesus, Are You the King of the Jews? Jesus answered, Do you say this of yourself, or have others told you of Me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own people and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My followers would certainly have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, My kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to Him, You are then a King? Jesus answered, You say it: I am a King. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.
A few verses later, St. John continues:
Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head; and they put on Him a purple garment. And they came to Him, and said: Hail, king of the Jews; and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring Him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in Him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And He saith to them: Behold the Man.
The scene of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) has been frequently depicted in art. The below painting comes from Caravaggio (1605). (Learn more about Caravaggio here with the Khan Academy.)

Behold the Man. Behold Jesus Christ, truly the King of the Jews and of all men. Behold Jesus Christ, crowned with thorns and mocked; Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem; Christ, who was to be stretched on the cross to die for men; Christ, who is Truth and the very Word of God; Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.

As moving as it is to contemplate the sufferings of Christ, of course, through His Resurrection and Ascension, Christ has conquered death and now reigns with the Father. So let us close our meditation on Christ the King by considering Him in His Glory. This is by Fra Angelico (c. 1423).

Thy kingdom come!