This is the day on which we honor Christ as our King.
Recalling how he told us, “My kingdom is not of this world” we must come to an understanding of the unusual way in which he is our king. For that, we search for clues in the Scriptures, looking especially to the reading the Church gives us for the feast of our King.
Our second reading calls Christ “The firstborn of the dead.” So, what is the significance of saying he is the firstborn of the dead?
When the crowds acclaimed Jesus as their king on Palm Sunday they did it by greeting him as the Son of David. That tells us that his claim to kingship was similar to David’s claim. We can fix on what that claim was by checking on the scene in Second Samuel when the leaders of the twelve tribes declared David their king. We read, “All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said, “Here we are, your bone and your flesh.”
The Bible follows the ancient idea of kingship where it belongs to the founder of a new race or to his direct descendent. All the people who later came to live in that land came to see him as the link which that had them related to each other.
Let me describe something similar that I repeatedly came across in my dozen years in Korea’s farmland. In America for two tiresome years we have been listening to politicians identifying themselves as the true friends of the American people. Korea’s population has an odd way of referring to themselves. They don’t call themselves the Korean people. They call themselves the Korean paiksung, which translates as the Korean Hundred-Names. They believe that there were a hundred pioneers who three thousand years ago settled on different parts of their peninsula. They believe that people with the same family name had the same ancestor.
After all these centuries each of the hundred clans is still aware of the man who is the direct descendent of its original founder, of the pioneer who landed of their shore. Once each year they used to try coming together at his house to deepen their mutual relationship and to honor all the ancestors in their clan. They say to him, as the leaders of the tribes said to David, “Here we are your bone and your flesh.”
Then, we honor Christ the King because he is “The firstborn of the dead.” He is the first of our race to land on heaven’s shore. As the first reading puts it, “He has made us into a kingdom.”