34B – 21 Nov 2021
Jesus the King as Son of Man
Message by: Fr Richard M Healey
The Feast of “Christ the King” is relatively new in Catholic terms, being established by Pope Pius XI only in 1925. That it was during the political battle for the sovereignty of the Papal States and the fight against modernism colours the nature of the celebration. Originally celebrated on the last Sunday in October (still is with the traddies) as part of the reform of the Second Vatican Council it was moved to be the final Sunday in the liturgical year and renamed as “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe.” It still struggles a little theologically, since the most appropriate time to acknowledge the enthronement of Jesus is on Ascension day, and the whole season of Advent is all about the kingdom of God breaking into our world and lives.
It can be challenging to truly make sense of what it means to declare Jesus to be the king. We have lots of images and ideas and understandings of kings, and we live as part of a monarchy, and so we have that whole kind of sense and all that history, and I think it’s important for us to to really immerse ourselves in the readings that the church in her wisdom has given to us today, because I think it can provide a really wonderful content.
Now when we think of of Jesus, one of the things we might think about him is some of the titles that he has across the pages of the New Testament. The most common that we might know about is to call him the Christ or the Messiah, the anointed one, or to call him Lord. But when we look across the pages of the Gospels, the most common term that Jesus uses to speak about himself. Is that he is the “Son of Man.” It occurs some 180 times in the New Testament. Most of those in the gospels; a couple of times in the Acts; and a couple of times in the Book of Revelation. So Jesus uses this image and it seems that it’s what that vision. that we had from Daniel 7 that captures this whole sense of what he is about. Son of man can be just be a euphemism for a human being. But it’s clearly much more when you see it and read it in the light of that vision. For us it’s important to go back to the beginning to remember who we are and who we were created to be that God created us in his image and likeness to be his covenant bearers. To be the people that would represent God in the world, and that’s wonderful through the 1st and 2nd chapters of Genesis, and then as soon as you get halfway through Genesis 3 the wheels come off the truck and everything starts to to fall apart. In Genesis 4 it gets worse with Cain and Abel in Genesis six, with all of the the weird stuff happening with the Nephalem and all of that and the flood then you know, so this continuing unravelling of this vision. So we’re looking since Genesis 3:15, where there was the promise that there would be one who would be able to undo the the great person on all of the the tribulations and consequences of the sin and fall that we read about in Genesis 3. And so there is this longing that there will be there this one, this perfect human being. And so whenever you get the next kind of person that comes onto the the pages of Scripture as you’re reading through the narrative, you kind of the back of your mind.
There’s this question, is this the one? Is this the one that we’ve been looking for and sometimes the stories will start off well and you think yes, maybe this is the person and Daniel is is one of those. But you know, he seems to be above reproach. You know there’s almost no thing that is at fault in Daniel, so he’s a very rare character in the page of the Scripture, because mostly. It’s pretty clear. But there are deeply flawed sinful human beings that we’re dealing with in the pages. You know nothing at all like us, OK? Pretty much exactly the same as us, and yet here we know that it’s no. It’s not Daniel, he’s not the one that is the fulfillment of all this cousin, his vision. It’s not about him is this longing for this. One, the one that will come, the one that will bring all of these threads together and provide this solution to this problem. Is it possible that a human being can actually faithfully fulfill the covenant purpose that God originally provided for us to be the image bearers of God?
And then at the beginning of each of the gospels we start to see the human reality of Jesus, who is so much more than just another human being, and we see it, especially in the Gospel of John, in this encounter that we have here in in the passion narratives, you know, it’s it’s a strange thing that we’ve changed from the gospel of Mark to the Gospel of John for the celebration of Jesus is the king we hear about his trial and those moments of suffering, but it’s here as the author of the Book of Revelation tells us, you know, it’s in looking up on the one who they appears.
That’s where we meet and encounter the true king of the universe, the true one who is the son of man, that it’s in the one who gives of himself so fully and so completely on the cross that he surrenders himself. There’s no no to Jesus, he keeps saying, yes, that love that so drives him. And calls him and motivates him that love. That is, he’s just exhausting himself in the midst of that, and so on. That moment in the cross. In the Gospel of John, that’s where he is enthroned. That’s where he is placed above all of creation. That’s where people can rightly see the reality of the son of man now elevated the son of man, now fulfilling that desire, and that longing that we’ve had, that if we want to know what does it look like to be a true.
Being we can look no further than to look on the one that they have peers to look upon Jesus to see in his self, emptying to see and his desire and his long just to to continue to surrender, to give himself to love us to death, to love us so that he’s got not even another drop of blood to shared on our behalf.
That’s in the moment when we’re able to see the true son of men. When this destiny of what it is to. Be a true king, nor about power, not about getting a bigger army, not about getting more people to fight on your behalf. Jesus clearly says no. None of those things are about the way that I am wanting to live. This is a different way that I’m bringing to you a different reality that I’m offering to you. This way of surrender. This way of sacrifice. So as we conclude this liturgical year, it’s important for us to continue to have that vision of Jesus before us.
The one who surrenders the one who gives of himself the one who offers us that example of love that just continues to say yes, that love that continues to pour itself out. We can be caught up in that we can be caught up in that mystery and we can take our proper place that we can share in that dignity we can share in that location. We can share in that life and that covenant reality of a God. Who’s warning us to be that very signed within the world off his presence whenever we love. Whenever we say yes whenever we surrender whenever we act in humility, we become more like the perfect son of man. We become more like we’re meant to be. We’re more like we’re called to be, that’s what this feast is about, this this invitation this gift that Jesus has shown us the way Jesus has done the necessary work Jesus has suffered and died so that we might experience that gift and that grace and that possibility of loving even to the point of death.
Today the invitation is for us to surrender for us to say yes to God and to love him above all things.