Solemnity of Christ the King – Cycle B
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this
discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that
Instituted by Pius XI in 1926, this feast was celebrated on the last
Sunday of October to foster the awareness of Christ’s dominion
over all people and to establish peace among nations. After Vatican
Council II the feast was transferred to the last Sunday of the
Liturgical Year, the Sunday before Advent, on which the human race is
consecrated to the Sacred Heart through the Litany of the Sacred Heart
and a prayer recited before the Blessed Sacrament.
This feast celebrates Christ’s Kingship in an altogether
non-worldly way. Jesus was anointed by the Father with the oil of
gladness as the Eternal Priest and Universal King. As Priest He offered
His life on the altar of the Cross and redeemed the human race by this
one perfect sacrifice of peace. As King He claims dominion over all
creation that He may present to the almighty Father a Kingdom of truth
and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love,
1st Reading - Daniel 7:13-14
Last week we heard from Daniel’s fourth apocalyptic vision as our
first reading and referred to our reading for today as part of our
study of the Gospel. Today’s 1st reading is from Daniel’s
first apocalyptic vision, the vision of the four beasts, which occupies
all of chapter 7. The Jerome Biblical Commentary and The New Jerome
Biblical Commentary both say that “all exegetes now agree that
the four beasts of this vision stand for the four successive pagan
a) The Babylonians
b) The Medes
c) The Persians
d) The Greeks
I am going to disagree. The Medes never occupied Jerusalem except as
part of an alliance of Persians and Medes (call it Medo-Persian) under
the leadership of Cyrus. I propose that the four successive pagan
empires are instead:
a) The Babylonians
b) The Medo-Persians
c) The Greeks
d) The Romans
Each of these pagan empires occupied Jerusalem and each of the occupations ended in conversion of the occupier:
a) Babylonians - Nebuchadnezzar - Daniel 2:47; 4:37
b) Medo-Persians - Cyrus - 2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2
c) Greeks - Antiochus - 1 Maccabees 6:12-13
d) Romans - Constantine - A.D. 313
The first three occupations ended in conversion to Judaism while the 4th and final one ended in conversion to Christianity.
Another, equally intriguing interpretation is that the 4th beast is the
Maccabees. Although they were Jewish and took over from the Greeks,
they were not of Davidic descent and therefore were occupiers rather
than the rightful inheritors of the throne. Their influence ended when
the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.
Today’s reading occurs immediately after the fourth beast has been destroyed in Daniel’s vision.
13 As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man
In human form. An image appeared in the vision resembling a human being, just as the first four images resembled beasts.
coming, on the clouds of heaven;
From God. The four beasts had come “up from the sea,” from
the powers of evil. Just as the four beasts are representative of
kingdoms, the human form is not an individual but a symbol; a symbol of
the kingdom of the saints of the Most High (verse 18).
The concept of the Son of Man eventually shifted from a figure of
speech for the theocratic kingdom into a term for the messianic king
himself. This change appears in Enoch, written a century or two before
the time of Christ.
When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, 14 He
received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every
language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall
not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.
2nd Reading - Revelation 1:5-8
Today’s reading, from the book of Revelation, comes from the
opening greeting and doxology; the portion of any letter which was
designed to identify the writer and generally heaps flowery praise on
the hearer to set the mood for the teaching which will follow. In this
case, the writing is to the seven churches in the province of Asia.
Although the seven churches are named, and it is evident from the
descriptions which follow that he had these actual churches in mind, it
is thought that the universal church is also being addressed; seven
being the number of the covenant, the churches being in a circular
pattern on a map, and other churches were known to exist in the area.
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
This is a reference to Jesus’ passion. The term
“witness” (Greek: martyr) is one who is executed. The
significance of Jesus as the “witness” is that He not only
witnesses against those who are at war against God, but He also
the firstborn of the dead
By His resurrection from the dead, He has attained supremacy, having “first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18).
and ruler of the kings of the earth.
Jesus’ exaltation. He is the universal king now, in this age
– sitting at His Father’s right hand while all His enemies
are being put under His feet (Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36). These three
titles express the essential content of faith.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
The precise wording of this phrase is unique in the New Testament to the book of
Revelation. The basic idea is early Christian tradition (see Romans 3:21-26; Galatians 2:20).
6 who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,
Jesus’ work fulfills the covenant of Exodus 19:6 put into
suspension by the sin of the golden calf. Being a kingdom means being
under God’s rule rather than Satan’s. All those who hear
and obey God’s word are priests: mediators between God and the
rest of humanity. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
to him be glory and power forever (and ever). Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
This is one of the most familiar Biblical images for judgment. Here, it calls to mind Daniel 7:13, our first reading.
and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him.
Zechariah 12:10. These two Old Testament sayings had, by the time of
this writing, been interpreted as prophesies of the return of the risen
Jesus as judge (see Matthew 24:30).
Yes. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”
The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; the beginning and the
end. (see Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; 44:6; 48:12). The fact that both God and
Christ claim “I am the alpha and the omega” proved
difficult for some of the earliest commentators on Revelation. Although
commentators struggled to explain how the same title could be applied
both to God and to Christ, Revelation itself often says of each what
can be said of the other, thus highlighting the intimacy of their
relationship and the oneness of their nature. The Trinitarian formula
wasn’t developed until the Nicene-Constantinoplian Creed (AD
says the Lord God,
This is the first of only two passages in Revelation in which God is
identified explicitly as the speaker (the other is 21:5-8). He is the
eternal and unchangeable source and goal of all history (Romans 11:36).
“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
Gospel - John 18:33b-37
Because the Gospel of Mark is so short, and this being the last Sunday
in the current cycle (Cycle B), we turn to the Gospel of John to see
Jesus’ kingship described. Ordinarily when we think of
kingship we imagine palaces, royal robes, sumptuous banquets, silver
and gold, power and glory. But today we hear about truth, betrayal,
blood, death and bitter lamentation
Jesus has been arrested and the High Priest Annas has finished his
interrogation the previous evening, and finding nothing wrong, sent Him
to another high priest, Caiaphas. We were told the night was cold, and
twice Peter was described as warming himself near the charcoal fire. At
daybreak (Good Friday) Jesus was brought to Pilate who was unable to
secure a clear indictment from the crowd and so has summoned Jesus
inside the praetorium (Roman courtroom) to make a private inquiry of
The contempt with which Pilate and the Jews regarded one another is
well known. Pilate’s questioning does not necessarily mean that
he is unaware of the attitude of these men toward Jesus, but he is
asking for a charge against him which will have validity in Roman law.
This, Jesus’ enemies did not conclusively have, hence their
initial effort to bluster Pilate into doing their will without hearing
specific charges. Pilate has refused to involve himself under those
terms and has forced the Jews to speak bluntly of their designs on
The Gospel of John is unique in that, unlike the other three gospels,
John places Jesus’ death on the cross on a different date. The
synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all show the Last Supper as
being a Passover meal with Jesus’ sacrifice occurring the next
day. John, because of his emphasis upon the Eucharist, places Jesus
death at the same time as the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. Saint
John draws heavily from Old Testament Passover imagery in his
Only in John do we hear Jesus being declared “The Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).
John is very careful to place Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day
when the Jews are to procure the lamb for the Passover meal (Palm
Sunday); they are to observe the lamb for four days to ensure that it
is free from any blemishes before the animal is sacrificed (Exodus
John has Pilate, after carefully examining Jesus, declare that He is without
blemish: “he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
‘I find no guilt in him’” (John 18:38); “Once
more Pilate went out and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him
out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in
him’” (John 19:4); “Pilate said to them, ‘Take
him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him’”
(John 19:6), at which point He is sent to be sacrificed. It is of
Pilate’s examination of Jesus that we hear about today.
John goes on to report that Jesus’ sacrifice on the altar of the cross satisfies
the requirements for the Passover lamb: “But when they came to
Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood
and water flowed out. ... For this happened so that the scripture
passage might be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of it will be
broken’ [Exodus 12:46]” (John 19:33-34, 36).
All this is to show that Jesus becomes the sacrifice of the New
Passover, the meal which Jesus promises in His Bread of Life Discourse
(John 6:25-70). He becomes the meal which must be eaten if we are to be
part of the covenant (Exodus 12:8).
33b [Pilate said to Jesus,] “Are you the King of the Jews?”
There is nothing in the preceding narrative which would prepare us for
this question. Saint John presupposes that Pilate has obtained more
precise information about Jesus than that contained in his discussion
with the Jews in verses 30-32. Events such as those Saint John
describes in 6:15 and 12:12 could have been used as a source of
denouncing Jesus as the leader of a nationalist movement, the only
charge that would be taken seriously by the Romans.
34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
By replying with another question, Jesus is not refusing to answer
– He is trying to make clear, as He has always done, that His
mission is a spiritual one. [compare with Jesus’ response to
Peter’s profession (Matthew 16:17)]. Pilate’s question is
not an easy one to answer. To a Gentile, a king of the Jews is a
subverter of the Empire. To a Jewish nationalist, the King-Messiah was
a political-religious liberator who would obtain their freedom from
35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
Pilate’s scorn for the Jews is made evident. He is there to look out for the affairs of the Empire.
What have you done?”
Have you done something which should concern the Empire?
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
Jesus’ answer separates His kingship from anything that could
threaten the Empire, since He claims that it can be proved that His
kingship is not of this world. He has no followers fighting to secure
His release. After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and
fish, Jesus fled because the people wanted to proclaim Him an earthly
king (John 6:15). However, Jesus did enter Jerusalem in triumph, and He
did accept acclamation as King-Messiah (John 12:13). He acknowledges
before Pilate that He is truly a king – but He also makes it
clear that His kingship is not an earthly one.
If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
Jesus’ reference to “the Jews” separates Him from those who have already rejected Him.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Like a courtroom today, just answer “yes” or “no”. Pilate wants a direct answer.
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
In Pilate’s sense of the word, Jesus is not a king. In another
sense, as Jesus has already implied by speaking of His kingdom, He is a
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
He is not a worldly king, but a king who “came into the
world” to testify to the truth. In the last verses we hear the
Word in this gospel. (see John 1:14, 17; 8:32; 14:6; 14:17; 15:26;
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus implicitly calls on Pilate to take a stand – on the side of truth and life, or with those who have rejected Him.
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org