Christ the Leader

The feast of Christ the King presents me with a problem. Websters online dictionary defines king as “a male monarch of a major territorial unit.” Likewise, it defines kingdom as “a politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen.” Some people get around the kingdom bit by substituting kin-dom with kin defined as “a group of persons of common ancestry.”
Monarchy just does not seem to be relevant today. Pope Pius XI instituted the feast in 1925 to counter secularism and communism. He wanted to assert the sovereignty of Jesus. Sovereignty connotes “supreme power especially over a body politic.” Jesus rules! Jesus reigns supreme! Jesus is Lord!
What then are we to do? I would never propose a feast of Christ the President. Given the foibles and imperialistic tendencies of all our presidents that would never work.
Jesus has clearly told us that this kingdom is not of this world. He resolutely rejected Satan’s temptation to rule over the world. Yet we understand that Jesus reigns supreme. He is Lord of all but again Lord is a monarchical term from days of old.
Let’s try this. Jesus lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are his people, his Body. Paul tells us that he is our peace because he has reconciled us. He has restored right order and right relationships—justice.
Jesus makes all things new. But, he is not a king as in monarch. He constantly reminds us that he has come not as lord and master but as servant. One of the mandates at the Last Supper is to wash one another’s feet as he has washed the feet of the disciples. The work of the servant—washing feet.
Our experience of government today is the experience of empire where greed and domination of others is the way of life. I have got mine. You get yours. Whatever is yours is mine and I will take it from you. We support our government because it exploits others to assure our comfortable life style.
Jesus’ “kingdom, his reign” is counter to empire and monarchial rule over defined territories. He rejects greed, domination and exploitation. He affirms the dignity of every person—no exceptions. He is our peace. He is our leader. He has gone before and shown us the way. He is the servant leader.
Maybe that is it—leader. A leader is “a person who has commanding authority or influence.” Jesus has influence in our lives. We are his people. We allow Jesus and his values to influence our lives. He has shown us the way of nonviolence. He has reconciled all things to himself. He makes all things new.
How? By being a servant leader. He shows us the way to the God. He is the face of God. He is the nonviolent one who challenged the greed and domination of the Roman Empire and the priestly leaders. He came to set us free from the bondage of empire. He did not lord his influence over others. He led by example.
I do not reckon that we will ever have a feast of Christ the Nonviolent Leader who shows us the way to God. Nevertheless, we can live by the values Jesus proclaimed. In face of imperial and priestly oppression, Jesus espoused justice—right order and right relationships among people. He proclaimed peace. His influence is founded on love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
Let us then confront empire and proclaim that we follow Jesus. He is our leader. He leads by serving. We lead by serving. He is the face of the loving, compassionate, merciful and ever just God. Like him, we must tell empire to “let my people go.” Loosen the bonds. Abandon imperial domination. Give dignity and respect to every person. Live by Gospel values—love, peace, justice, mercy and forgiveness.
Today, I will celebrate the feast of Christ the Leader.

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