As a kid, I liked to climb a mountain of snow and yell “I’m king!” But when no one was around to hear my yell, was I really a king? What makes Jesus a king? We do. After all, you can’t be a king if you don’t have followers. We just celebrated the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The title is a paradox. While Jesus Christ is ruler over the cosmos, the Gospel presented him during his passion. The cross is his throne, and his crown is made of thorns. No trappings of triumphalism there! Typical hymns for the solemnity underscore the paradox. “Crown Him with Many Crowns” hails Jesus with his scepter. But we also sing “Lift High the Cross,” remembering we are his followers who bear on “our brow the seal of him who died.” The verses of these two hymns alternate between Good Friday and the Second Coming, while rooting us in today’s reality that we are followers carrying our crosses and awaiting our crowns.
Think of the title “king” as one of governance, and we see Jesus as one responsible for the care and well-being of God’s People. We who have been baptized as “priest, prophet, and king” must attend to the care and well-being of others, too. We have been given one another as neighbor and kin and good stewards of the earth. We build Christ’s kingdom on earth. One day we’ll all be part of the new heaven and new earth. Then we’ll realize that God’s kingdom is more like a “kin-dom.” One day all humanity will be a family made in the image of God and we’ll see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. In the meantime, let’s treat each other royally.