The Nature of Kingship
What is the nature of kingship? The best definition is that the king’s authority is recognised. Christ’s Kingship is no different. We Christians instinctively recognise his majesty, which is a complex power. It includes his love, his impartial judgement, his faithfulness to us, and his absolute authority, which is so so different from our projections.
This kingship raises so many questions and requires fresh responses. Christ’s Kingship is not something static. It prompts us to revise our relationship to this powerful King. This kingship is a dialogue between the second Person of the Trinity and us. We are asked to respond as individuals, as a local community, and as a nation, even as a culture, nay, as the human family itself.
This year’s discerning of this power is so different. In this time of Covid-19, the global pandemic, how do we perceive Christ as King? How do we relate to his power?
The first thing that may come to mind is that Covid-19, as a powerful enemy of our established life, is a competing power. Who is more powerful? The virus, as it seems to have the upper hand? Or we, who are seeking to find the proper vaccine? Is it the human mind, with all its scientific power and organisational skills? Or is it Christ the King, who will reveal his many faceted kingship, this time in terms of his healing power?
These days, rightly, articles on different aspects of the global pandemic dominate our newspapers. Science is consulted as a redeeming power. Professor Dame Anne Glover gave a telling title to her column in the Sunday Times (Saturday 22 November 2020): ‘To Follow the Science We Must Learn to Understand It.’ ‘Science is not just for emergencies, it underpins everything we do in life…Our education system must prepare our citizens for a world that is almost wholly dependent on science, engineering and technology. As individuals, we must be informed enough that we are able to interrogate what we are told, make demands and challenge the decisions of those in power.’ All what is raised in the article, are very important indeed.
However, personally, I would like to know, if the big research labs have requested the churches (the Christian people, the pope, the chief-bishops of their countries) to pray for their success? There was very little ’talk’ of this kind among politicians either. If this is the case, we should see a gap emerging between our culture, as a whole, and Christ’s Kingship. Let us be puzzled by this gap. It is there. There is no point of denying it. We can reflect on questions like ‘if this tension is there, where is our culture heading for?’ If prayer, awe and thanksgiving does not connect our businesses with the throne of God, does it mean that there is no blessing on our endeavours? Without relying on God’s providence, are we re-creating the tower of Babel, with new forms of hubris, stemming from our mastery of medication, gene-technology or Artificial Intelligence? Can we arrive to our hoped solutions in time, or we risk not simply a delay but a failure?
If science is totalised as ‘an immanent saviour’, what is next? The Pope warns that after the vaccine we should not return to the previous madness of consumption. The aforementioned science and technology have created tremendous ‘diversity’ out of a more simple, more focused wat of life. Today’s feast is a reminder that without finding ‘the simplifier’, the voice of being focused again, we are lost in ‘diversity’. For ever.
Let us be humbly left with these questions, reflecting on them with the spirit of discernment.
But let us turn back to our opening question. What is the nature of Christ’s Kingship. On this feast, we recognise Him as king of the universe, as the agent of universal judgement. On this feast, in his presence, all matters. The teeny-tiny dots of our individual existence, the larger dots of our communities, and the big dots of nations, with the giant dot of the human family. What is required in facing this kingship is one thing, which is the crus of the matter. Repentance.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..