Christ, the King

11-21-2021Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

The selection from the book of Daniel presented in today’s first reading was part of an attempt to weave a vision of ultimate success for the Jews under persecution. Exactly whom the author had in mind when he refers to “one like a Son of Man” is hotly disputed by scholars today.

The fact is, we simply do not know if the author meant anyone in particular or if this is a collective, figurative image of Israel’s triumph. What we do know is that the early Christian community seized upon this passage and recognized it as a messianic prophecy, a foretelling of the ultimate triumph of Jesus as the Christ of God. The Lectionary’s juxtaposition of this text with today’s Gospel narrative of Jesus before Pilate is a wonderful example of how the liturgy “layers” passages with new meaning by inserting them in a particular context.

The celebration of Christ the King allows us to hear these passages with a new depth of meaning in light of our contemporary understanding of how, in Jesus and his resurrection and ascension, we have seen the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision of ultimate deliverance. The veiled admission of Jesus before Pilate that he did indeed have a kingdom “not here” takes on new meaning against the cosmic vision of Daniel, who allows us to glimpse the “Ancient One” on his heavenly throne.