Subject: Christ the King. We celebrate Christ the King as the last Sunday in Pentecost, the week before Advent begins.
Dedication: In memory of Sue Young Lallande and John James Lallande, Louise Lallande Hoyt and Lindley Murray Ferris
Maker/Date: Wilbur Herbert Burnham, Boston, Massachusetts, 1943
Background of the maker, Willard Burnham is here
We celebrate Christ the King Sunday as the last Sunday of Ordinary Time just before we begin Advent. It is the switch in the Liturgy between Years A, B, and C.
The earliest Christians identified Jesus with the predicted Messiah of the Jews. The Jewish word “messiah,” and the Greek word “Christ,” both mean “anointed one,” and came to refer to the expected king who would deliver Israelfrom the hands of the Romans. Christians believe that Jesus is this expected Messiah. Unlike the messiah most Jews expected, Jesus came to free all people, Jew and Gentile, and he did not come to free them from the Romans, but from sin and death. Thus the king of the Jews, and of the cosmos, does not rule over a kingdom of this world.
Christians have long celebrated Jesus as Christ, and his reign as King is celebrated to some degree in Advent (when Christians wait for his second coming in glory), Christmas (when “born this day is the King of the Jews”), Holy Week (when Christ is the Crucified King), Easter (when Jesus is resurrected in power and glory), and the Ascension (when Jesus returns to the glory he had with the Father before the world was created).
The four Gospel writers of the Bible’s Christian Testament all refer to Christ, after His Resurrection, variously as “King of Kings“; ”King of Glory“; “All Powerful”; “All Ruler”; “Lord of Lords” and similar lofty, Imperial-style titles. Obviously, this was against the backdrop of the presence of the Holy Land’s rulers at the time, the Roman Emperors.
The celebration of Christ the King in modern times came from the Catholics in the 20th century. Pope Pius XI wanted to specifically commemorate Christ as king, and instituted the feast in the Western calendar in 1925. Pius connected the denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism. Secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ’s authority, as well as the Church’s, and even doubting Christ’s existence. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders
Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. They were:
- That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state.
- That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ.
- That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.
The upper subject projects the baby Jesus into Christ the King image, in Bishops’ vestments.
Jesus with crown outstretched arms is in the shape of the cross. Above Jesus INRI stems from the Latin phrase ‘Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum’ meaning ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’.
He is flanked at the top with two seraphs and fleur de lis. The word “seraphs” means “burning ones” or nobles. They are also sometimes called the ‘ones of love’ because their name might come from the Hebrew root for ‘love’. They are only fully described in the Bible on one occasion. This is in the book of the prophet Isaiah, when he is being commissioned by God to be a prophet and he has a vision of heaven. There are six wings shown but only two are used for flying.
Jesus is inset in an oval design. As with the lower window, the yellow color accentuates Jesus, now an adult. Red from the cherubs, the Celtic cross behind Jesus and his vestments grouped together are also in the shape of a cross and provide additional emphasis on Jesus. Jesus’ head is surrounded on the borders by medieval pointed arches.
The two symbols in the middle are Alpha and Omega from Revelation 21:- “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” It comes in a passage dealing with the end of history. So Christ is the Alpha and Omega of all things.”
Below Alpha and Omega are two angels in medieval costume with the wings outreached. The color green for youth and immortality. Angels can be considered immortal. In Luke 20:35-36, it is written”..but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.”