A reflection on Christ as King
Once upon a time Kings ruled with supremacy; governing at will and with might. Today the monarchy is reduced and largely ceremonial. HM Queen performs duties, but they are servile to the State. And I wonder if this change in the role of the monarchy influences how we approach today’s feast of Christ the King? Have Westerners lost sight of what a “King” really is and how we ought to behave before one? Especially one that is all loving and good and our heavenly Father.
To embrace Christ the King requires us to shed that image of a benign State figure whose authority we largely ignore. We must resurrect instead the ancient archetype- the King with regal power and splendour. The King at whose name every knee should bow. We must re-capture the awe owing a magnificent King and learn again to offer humility, obedience and servitude to him- qualities sorely lacking in our egotistical society today.
You see the problem? The title ‘King’ does not easily register with a modern, democratic mindset. At worst we picture something passé and negative, at best something pleasant but redundant. And neither image is fit for Christ our King.
A reflection on our response to the King.
Once we have grasped the importance of Christ’s total sovereignty we should next ponder how we, who are his subjects, should respond to him. Do we approach God with genuine humility offering lives of obedient service? Or are we, in fact, puffed up and ever seeking to push God from his throne, manipulating the faith for our own agenda? Projecting our own beliefs onto the faith divinely revealed?
It strikes me that much of the mess in the modern church stems from the latter hubristic approach. The attempt by fallen man to project his own face and agenda on Christ’s eternal throne. Yes, driven by hunger for secular political correctness many now claim authority to re-interpret scripture and tradition as they see fit. As if we who can only manage the decline of the West are somehow more enlightened than those who built it. The arrogance is breathtaking yet it persists and is widespread. Always we hear that voice that seeks to twist the bible to make it say what those who set themselves as arbiters of God’s truth feel it ought to say. The effect has been catastrophic. Catholicism now creaks under the resulting confusion, contradiction and strain of this wicked attempt to bend divine teaching to man’s fallen will.
Oh that instead of pushing agendas modern Christians would simply follow the faith as received. Oh that we sought to be not masters of the faith but obedient servants of the King. Preaching the one true faith of the ages and not the tedious false doctrines of self, rights and permissiveness so rampant in wider society and radical Christianity.
This Advent it behoves us all to ask: do we submit to his authority or do we ask God to bow to our command? Do we obey what he has revealed or endorse only that which we consider expedient for our agenda? Do we follow the divine laws, yes even the ones we struggle with, or cherry pick only the ones that suit us? As if there can be separation of doctrine and praxis. Are we really disciples, in other words, or are we demi-gods? Do we come before our King with humility or breath-taking arrogance?
A reflection on the need for humility
Humility. Ultimately that is the key to becoming an authentic disciple of Christ. For without it a knee never bends. Never forget that when St. Antony had a vision of Satan he observed the devil had no knees..for the devil, like so many modern men, refused to bow to anyone in servitude. And indeed the Satanic creed is simply this; do what thou wilt. In other words be your own god. Bow to no-one. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the same modernist theologians who tend to push the envelope to water down doctrine tend to be the same who delight in the removal of altar rails and who frown on traditional devotion? Is it that they dislike bending the knee before God? Is this why worship on their watch has so often shifted from a truly reverent focus on God to a celebration of man and concern for worldly things?
If we want a better church – better priests, better bishops; if we want a truly Christian future- we must learn afresh what it means to be subjects. Must learn the requisite humility to hand lives to God and be subject to his will not our own. The secular philosophy of ‘self’ has to take a running jump if the Gospel is to flourish. ‘Me me me’ and the victim culture has no place in a Gospel of sacrificial love. Christ, our King, never sued authorities for slander nor identified as victim and demanded pity. He simply offered an example of authentic humble love to those who killed him.
Christmass is nearly here. The usual plastic rubbish will fill our children’s stockings and dreams. But the greatest gift we can offer is this: the example of our lives vastly improved in 2019 because we found the humility to deepen commitment to Christ. By showing our love and obedience for Christ the King we model for the children of this parish a true and living faith. A faith which might, even yet, save our shallow and morally bankrupt nation. But first we must approach Advent ready to fall on our knees before our King and do that which he commanded us to do. Love God and neighbour more than self.