25 November 2007 Solemnity of Christ, the King
2 Sam 5, 1-3; Psalm 122; Col 1, 12-20; Luke 23, 35-43
In the 2nd Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, there is a meditation called, “Call of the King”. Ignatius was born and raised in medieval chivalry; thus he envisioned Jesus as the King, who invites knights to follow him. In the days that follows, the one taking the retreat will do the “Meditation on the Two Standards” when Jesus, the King on one side, and Lucifer, on the other side, call their respective constituents. And therefore, the retreatant are made to choose whom to follow. Of course many of us would choose Christ — because who in his or her right mind would choose Satan? We draw out the points for today from these meditations and the readings of today.
The image of the king is very outdated. Many of us did not experience the monarchial or vassalage system in which a knight owes his allegiance to his king. Many of us are turned off by anything that suggest authority: we smirk when the Presidency is treated like a kingship or queenship for women in high positions; we are turned-off by anyone who feels like a king — nagha-hari-harian — like priests who still believe in the adage, ang pari ay hari (the priest is king) or officials who think that they deserve the allegiance of all.
Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI taught that the kingship of Christ is not based on human power but on service for others. Christ is king because of his nature and essence: He is divine. However, Christ’s understanding of kingship is service. He becomes the model of honorable public service: his compassion led him to heal, to listen, to forgive others.
However, many of us in the public arena find ourselves wanting to be served, but not to serve. When we think that our high position is self-earned, we deceive ourselves: our position of authority has been made possible by other people’s votes. We owe the very position we occupy to people who believed in us. No matter how independent we think we are, we still live on the commitment of others.
Second, the celebration is about our choices. Choosing Christ in the Meditation of the Two Standards is not done once and for all. The choices is more than daily, the choosing takes almost months or years, the decision takes only a few hours off.
Take for example this: when you don’t know the answer, but your seatmate does, you try to take a quick peek at the other table’s answers. Our heart experiences the war within. But objectively, this is why we publish to the web. But the choosing is left to us: will you strain your neck, or will you face the consequence of choosing what you think was right. Choosing the right thing can make us miserable. You don’t attend the birthday party of a friend, and he or she suddenly turns cold. You refuse to attend fraternities, then they gang up on you.
The solemnity of Christ, the King is extremely important. It makes you proud but it puts you back to the ground; and second it challenges you to discover what you don’t have, and appreciate the others who have them.