Truly Triumphant King

Tissot Title on the Cross

At Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Christ the King, the first reading and the gospel reading give us two pictures of the King of the Jews. Stunningly different.

First we read from II Samuel about the moment when the prophet anointed David king of all Israel. This moment was the culmination of a thoroughgoing military and political triumph. The Lord had chosen David from humble beginnings. Samuel had discovered a little shepherd boy, who then went on to distinguish himself as a valiant warrior, skilled general, and noble statesman. David successfully united all of the tribes of Israel; he defeated the Philistines; and he conquered the pagan city of Jerusalem to be the capital city of the Jews. David transformed the chosen people from a loose affiliation of beleaguered tribes into a powerful nation.

Then we read about the King of the Jews in the gospel. The renowned teacher and miracle-worker from Nazareth had come to Jerusalem in triumph, arriving to the cheers of throngs of followers. Jesus’ Apostles thought that He was poised to lay claim to the throne of David, to galvanize a revolution against the Roman overlords. But, as we read, that is not what happened.

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