by Father Caleb Buchanan
There is a legend about an ancient kingdom that flourished in power and wealth many centuries ago.
A very young king made a pledge he would never accompany his soldiers to fight in a war outside of his kingdom. He needed his crown prince to be ready to succeed him if he was to engage or possibly die in battle. He broke this pledge when his son volunteered to join his soldiers in war. He could not bear being separated from his crown prince and his only prince.
The king and the prince were brutally killed in battle. There were no lawful heirs to the throne. There were no lawful heirs to the treasures of the kingdom. The nobles of the kingdom decided to begin picking up the pieces by holding an auction of all the king’s possessions. The wealthiest citizens of the kingdom gathered to bid for the finest of the royal treasures.
The first item to be auctioned was a very large, damaged and dirty stone door. No one understood why this large filthy stone door was being auctioned. They looked around at each other and started murmuring. The auctioneer offered the door up for bid once to no avail. He offered it up a second time with absolutely no takers. As he offers it up a third time, just when he is about to take it off the auction block, a peasant, who attended to the king and his generals, steps forward and bids today’s equivalent of $50. The citizens thought he was insane.
But after the auctioneer declared the door sold to this young man, the auctioneer proclaimed that the auction was over. Obviously, everyone was surprised. He also proclaimed that all the treasures of the deceased king were no longer up for auction.
Worthy of the Throne
The other nobles brushed the soil and debris off the stone door quickly and assiduously. The image of the deceased crown prince emerged. The auctioneer declared that the king left a decree in his will that whoever had the wisdom to treasure any of his possessions, even the least of them, would be worthy to secure the image of his son.
Whoever had the wisdom and devotion to secure that image, whoever they may be in the eyes of the kingdom, will have the authority of his throne and of his son. At that very moment, the peasant was crowned by the nobles as the new king of the kingdom. Legend has it that he led his people into one of the greatest dynasties in history.
Today, we Roman Catholics all over the world celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. We, like the peasant in the story, are beneficiaries of a Father who planned for us to become His children ages before we were ever conceived in our mothers’ wombs and centuries after Adam’s sin threatened to destroy our inheritance of unbroken communion with the Father for all eternity.
St. Augustine celebrates the arrival of the Heavenly King’s Crown Prince, Jesus Christ, into our human family sharing our human nature as an “admirabile commercium,” “a marvelous exchange.” God in the Incarnation of Jesus shares in our human nature and through baptism, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God, experiencing the indwelling of the Trinity in our souls.
We, like the peasant in the story, through this baptism uniting us with the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, have been sanctified from the soil of original and actual sin and now bear the image of the Son of God in our souls. This sacred seal on our souls, strengthened indelibly by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, marks our identity as the God-appointed crown heirs to the glory of His Everlasting Kingdom. Like the peasant, through all the devastating battles of our lives, we will wear a crown in the New Jerusalem. When the final battle for the Triumph of God’s Kingdom is over, we will wear a crown in the New Jerusalem.
In today’s reading from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus tells Pilate and all of us who love Him and follow Him, that He and His Words are always “true” as we hear His Voice and cherish our belonging to Him as His rightful heirs to everlasting glory.
In today’s first reading from the Book of Daniel, we, like St. John, join Blessed Daniel in glorifying Jesus Christ, Our King, as the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man, the Father’s Faithful Witness, the Greatest of Our Brothers, Ancestors and Liberators. He is, as we say in other places, “The Boast of the Whole Human Race!”
In the Responsorial Psalm taken from Psalm 93, we join the holy ones extolling the victory of God as King through the throes of exile. Jesus Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, clothed in majesty as our Sovereign and Ever-Glorious King. In today’s second reading from the Book of Revelation, we are called as the Church to worship this Glorious King: Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus, Christus Imperat. Vive Longe Christus Rex! Long Live Christ the King!
Readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King
Daniel 7: 13-14
Psalm 93: 1, 1-2, 5
Revelation 1: 5-8
John 18: 33b-37
Father Caleb Buchanan is the new administrator of St. Laurence Church, Spring Creek; diocesan coordinator of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns; and chaplain of Medgar Evers College.