Nov. 22, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Cycle B. Readings:
1) Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm 93:1-2, 5
2) Revelation 1:5-8
Gospel: John 18:33b-37
One can always find lively debate on the Internet and on social media. Some of it is profound, some of it is trivial and some is downright ridiculous. But sometimes even the trivial can convey a kernel of truth.
While searching for a movie critique, I stumbled across a popular online magazine piece in which three commentators were debating the relative merits of Batman’s previous garb and the latest Batman suit created for a cinematic battle against Superman.
It seems that the recent iteration was more heavily armored and, as one writer commented, more appropriate for dueling with the man of steel. Trivial, indeed. But I was struck by another critic’s objection to the new suit. He maintained that the additional bulk was “antithetical” to all that makes Batman who he is, including his “human vulnerability.”
After all, Batman, beneath his intimidating ensemble, is also completely human, and therein lies the enduring appeal of the story. Bruce Wayne is more than he appears to be. So what does a Batman suit have to do with a reflection on Jesus Christ, king of the universe?
Some second-century Christians had great difficulty with the notion that Jesus, the divine son of God, could be truly human, since material flesh and blood were evil and only spirit was capable of divinity. This heresy, called “Docetism,” maintained that Jesus only “appeared” human, or was “clothed” in a phantomlike humanity. Scripture, however, tells us otherwise.
Psalm 93 is a hymn about the Lord’s royal garb; he is “robed in majesty,” “girt about with strength.” When he comes again amid the clouds, every eye will see him and all will know without a doubt that he is king. Yet Pilate certainly didn’t see him that way. Jesus stood before him, fully human and completely vulnerable, on trial for being a king who is not of this world. Of this king it is written in Revelation, he is both the “firstborn of the dead” and “ruler of the kings of the earth.”
On this feast, we celebrate a king who is both fully human and fully divine; the early church father St. Irenaeus wrote that Jesus became what we are so that we could become what he is.
There’s nothing trivial about that.
— By Sharon K. Perkins
Do you struggle more with Jesus’ true divinity or his true humanity? How is Jesus, the king not of this world, ruler of your life and of your heart?