There is an old story about pre-revolutionary France. There were two peasants working around the Cathedral of Notre Dame on a very special day.
The King and Queen’s coach came up with many horses and lords and ladies, soldiers and important people. The door opened and the Queen and the King came out in all their splendor. As they went into the church, on this very special Feast Day, as they walked along the red carpet, everyone knelt down and paid them homage.
Looking on, one peasant, a hard, very poor man said, “My dream is that one day everyone, everyone, will be treated as ordinary people, including kings and queens.
And the other one, just as poor and hard suffering, piped up. He said, “My dream is quite different. You dream that everyone will be treated as ordinary. I dream that everyone will be treated like queens and kings.”
“Everyone will be treated like queens and kings”. This captures for me a big part of what the today’s solemnity of Christ the King is about. For in the kingdom of Christ we will all be as kings and queens, not in wealth or luxury but every one of us will be treated with the inherent dignity and worth that we are born with. Not the dignity or respect earned by any of our actions; the dignity and respect essential to a child of God, made in God’s own image, worthy of royal dignity.
The recognition of the inherent dignity of all humankind is only possible if the world acknowledges Christ as our true king. Christ the son of God as king, deserving all our love and deference, and Christ the son of man as king, deserving all our love and deference.
It is only when the world learns to worship and obey Christ, who is fully God and fully human, that our humanity and all members of Adam’s race will reach their full royalty. Christ the king became human and so restored to us our full dignity. Through his life Jesus leads us to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among us, that he is God’s presence.
Only when we see others not as reflections of ourselves, or as the sum total of their accomplishments, or as rivals or allies or co- belligerents or as members of our tribe or outsiders, not in fact until we stop discriminating between ‘us ‘ and ’others’ we will be able to see and love each other as kings and queens.
That may seem impossible, and even more impossible today with the growth of nationalism around the world and of identity politics in our country. And it is impossible, left to our ourselves. ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world’, Jesus tells Pilate in our Gospel reading. Only in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, only through grace and faith in Christ the King will we approach the condition of seeing each other as kings and queens and not as the other.
The Kingdom is not of this world yet Jesus came to live in our world. He came to inaugurate the kingdom, and we his followers work and wait in anticipation of its fulfillment. The kingdom of God is in the here and now, present in and through the Church. It will only be perfectly realized at the end of history. The Church in the world as part of the kingdom labors to bring the kingdom to fulfillment within the world. Each one of us are part of the kingdom and we labor to bring it to fulfillment within ourselves. It’s what we pray for in the ‘Our Father’ – thy Kingdom come , thy will be done. We pray for the Kingdom of God that is in the Church and in ourselves, and we pray that the kingdom might soon bear fruit and attain its fullness.
And as we pray for the kingdom to come we work for the kingdom to come. We work for the kingdom of God in our lives and in this world by recognizing ourselves as queens and kings. We work by declaring and protecting the inherent dignity of all humanity- the poor as well as the rich, the most helpless as well as the powerful. The dignity of the unborn child, the dignity of families, the dignity of those who labor, the kingship and queenship of every descendent of Adam and Eve. Today, and every day, proclaim this truth, the truth for which Jesus came to testify. Pray and work for Jesus the son of man to receive dominion, glory, and kingship.