Shepherd. Worthy Lamb. Firstborn of Creation. Beloved Son. Suffering Servant. Mocked. Mortified. Crucified. And risen from the dead! This is certainly no ordinary King! The Sovereign of the Universe is a paradox indeed! While thrones, dominions, rulers and powers have all been created “through him and for him,” he is, at the same time, a servant of all and a friend of the despised. He eats with tax collectors, and sinners. He washes feet.
At the front or our church, there is a large screen on which we project hymn numbers and music for the liturgy. Before Mass begins each week, we also show a piece of art that reflects the Sunday liturgy. When we come to this last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of the Universe – I always struggle to find an image that will work. Most artwork falls short. This is no fault of the artists because it almost impossible to depict in one visual – the Lord of the Universe and the Washer of Feet. The Church chooses, on this Sunday, to proclaim the crucifixion of Christ between two thieves – one whose heart has been moved, one who remains bound in anger and judgement. Another paradox. King of the Jews wearing a crown not of gold but of thorns.
This paradox will continue for us into Advent. In this week, we end our liturgical year by proclaiming that the Lord of the Universe is Love Incarnate. Then, for the next few weeks we will describe what this Reign looks like and lament that our world is far from realizing the rule of Love. We long, even ache, for a better world – where wolves and lambs lie down together, where walls are torn down not built, where strangers are friends, where all people are loved and accepted, where there is genuine peace and harmony.
As we celebrate this Solemnity of this paradoxical Monarch, I am confronted as I try to model my life on his. I am challenged to ask myself how well, I serve the poor, welcome the stranger, heal the wounded and comfort the afflicted. These questions make me squirm a little, as I become aware of the temptations to power, control and social acceptance that prevent me from living truly for others. This Church feast reminds us that as subjects of the Lord Jesus, we are called like him to be the Image of the Invisible God bringing love, peace, joy and justice to our world.
–Christine Way Skinner
Christine Way Skinner has worked in ministry for more than thirty years and is currently a Lay Pastoral Associate at St. John Chrysostom Parish in Newmarket, Ontario. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from St. Francis Xavier University and a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Her interests lie in the areas of sacraments and liturgy, inclusive catechesis, the neuroscience of ritual, and the use of art in religious education.
Her publications can be found and purchased here.