Responsorial Psalm – Ps. 93:1, 1-2, 5
Second Reading – Rev. 1:5-8
Gospel Reading – Jn. 18:33b-37
For those of us who live in the United States it is a bit odd to hear about royalty, kings, queens and kingdoms. After all we got our start by rejecting the ways of the United “Kingdom.”
However, as Catholics we are inundated by the language of kingdom. God gave Adam dominion, and thus made him king over creation (cf. Genesis 1:26). God made a covenant with Abraham that kings would come from his line (cf. Genesis 17:6). God then made a covenant with David regarding a royal dynasty. Someone would reign on the throne of David forever (cf. 2 Samuel 7). We read about the kings of Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. In this Sunday’s reading from Daniel, we hear about the Son of Man, one who will receive “dominion, glory, and kingship,” someone whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed” (v. 14).
In the Gospel of Matthew the kingdom is referred to over 50 times. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading from John, Jesus says, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (18:37). Every year as Catholics, on the final Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. We may have cast off the kings and queens of England, but we remain under the authority of Christ as King.
It is interesting to reflect on God’s covenant with David and the fact that God said that someone would reign on his throne forever, i.e. for all eternity. In relation to this we have the reading from Daniel which speaks of the Son of Man having a kingship that shall not be destroyed.
How is this even possible? The only way this is really possible is if God himself is that king, but also that the king is of the line of David. For all this to take place, God would have to become man and be of the line of David. And, miraculously, this is what happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary. God takes on human nature – body, blood and soul – and mysteriously unites it to his divinity. He will reign on the Davidic throne for all eternity. Christ is truly the King of kings.
However, during the time of Jesus there was no reigning king from the line of David. King Herod was not of the line of David. He was not even an Israelite. He was an Edomite, a descendent of Jacob’s brother Esau. Ever since the Babylonian captivity, some 500 years earlier, there has been no reigning Davidic king. God’s promises have seemed to go unfulfilled.
The angel Gabriel, however, appears to “a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David…” (Luke 1:27). Gabriel will go on to proclaim that “…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob [Israel] for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31a, 32b-33). God has kept his promises.
It is also important that God said to David that he would be the Davidic king’s father, and the king shall be his son. Each Davidic king was considered to be a “christ,” i.e. an anointed one. They were also considered to be God’s son. How fitting it is that God the Father sent his Son to be the eternal Davidic king. It is not a coincidence that we hear the following words at Jesus’ royal anointing in his baptism, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22b).
Jesus is the definitive fulfillment of all of the heavenly Father’s promises. As Dr. Scott Hahn notes, regarding the Gospel reading from St. John, “The coronation of Jesus begins with his Passion and culminates with his Ascension, from which time his dominion extends over the earth through the preaching and sacramental ministry of the Church” (The Gospel of John, p. 52).
Brian writes a monthly column, “Veritatis Splendor,” for The Northern Cross of the Diocese of Duluth and his 33-part series on the sacraments for The Northern Cross have also been posted on Catholic News Agency's website, where he also authors a weekly column, “Road to Emmaus,” on the Sunday Readings, (which are translated into Romanian and posted on www.profamilia.ro).
Pizzalato is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute. He is also author of the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition at the Maryvale Institute.
Brian holds an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Brian currently pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Augustine Institute in Denver, CO as well as being a Ph.D. candidate at the Maryvale Institute. Brian is married and has six children.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.