Christ is our king in that he is the first of our race to land on heaven's shore.

Sunday, 11/22/15

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 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 one who is 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 we have hear each politician identifying themselves as the true friend of the American people. What we hear in Korea is a little different.  They don’t call themselves the Korean people. They call themselves the Korean paiksung. That translates to them calling themselves the  Korean Hundred-Names. 

While there are fifty thousand different family names in America, there are only a hundred of them in Korea. We know the common ones like Kim, Pak, Choe, Lee; and they believe that all Korean individuals with the same family name had the same ancestor.They believe that there were a hundred pioneers who three thousand years ago settled on different parts of their peninsula. 

After all these centuries, old people in each of Korea's hundred clans is still aware of the man among them who is the direct descendent of its original founder, of the pioneer who landed of their shore. 

While I was in Korea fifty years ago, I often saw the yearly gathering of people with the same name. They would come together at the home of the man who was the direct descendent of the first of that name to land on Korea's shore.  They would say to him, as the leaders of the tribes said to David, “Here we are your bone and your flesh.”

So, in the same way,  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.” 

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