“He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” - Luke 23:35
This is the last Sunday of the church year. Advent begins on November 27. This last Sunday of the season of Pentecost is called "Christ the King Sunday, and the readings appointed for the day are about Christ's role as the ruler of all things.
How odd, then, that in the gospel for Christ the King Sunday, we find Jesus nailed to the cross, with a criminal on his right and his left. The leaders are mocking him, saying, "You've saved plenty of other people, if you're really the Messiah, why can't you now save yourself?" And the soldiers are ridiculing him saying, "What kind of a 'King of the Jews' are you anyway when you can't even save yourself?"
When I think of kings, I think of knights and soldiers and wealth. I think of politics and power. If this vulnerable Jesus on the cross is our king, there must be a different way to think about royalty.
I begin this week thinking about the prayer of St. Francis, which we read at Peter Funk's memorial service on Saturday. Our king is one who seeks not so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, and to be loved as to love. This is a king that knows that it is in giving that we receive, it is in forgiving that we are forgiven and it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
After a long election, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would welcome more consolation understanding, love, giving, forgiving and deep humility in our earthly leaders. In a world where many of those things seem to be lacking, we seek the power of Christ the King to lead our way forward in peace.