Christ The King – Is it a Divine Joke?

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

2 Samuel 5:1-3

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: "Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.’" When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, and they anointed him king of Israel.

Colossians 1:12-20

Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Luke 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews." Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

This week we are celebrating the very last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Feast of Christ the King. What I would like to share is a divine joke. The essence of a joke is the coming together of opposites, the juxtaposition of incongruous things. So we laugh when an adult speaks like a child, or when a simple man finds himself lost amid the complexities of a sophisticated society. In the same way, the sacred joke begins with the central claim of Christianity, in which God became human! The Creator of the cosmos, who transcends any definition or concept, took to himself a nature like ours, and becoming one of us.

Yes, He is “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15). He is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, and through Him all things were made (The Nicene Creed). “He is the icon of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). Nevertheless, how strange and what a surprising king He is! What we perceive to have power, majesty, and lord-ship has very little to do with the “Truth”. Let us go back to the Gospel this week, “The rulers sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. They called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” … Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us”” (Lk 23:35-39). This is the key and the clue of this juxtaposition.

What do we think kingship means? Is it power, authority, or domination? For our worldly definition, it means the capacity to save ourselves. Being king means to be able to protect ourselves. The irony is that the true king, Christ the King, is not the one who saves Himself, aggrandizes His ego, and fills Himself up. Rather, He is the one who forgets Himself out of love, who gives it away, and who empty Himself. Do we want to know what the power that makes the universe is like? Do we want to understand “the Alpha and the Omega”, and the power which holds all things together? It is the power of self-emptying love. That is not what the world tells us, but rather it is an irony, an icon of our invisible God!

Therefore, do we want power in our life? Then stop trying to save ourselves, rather to save somebody else. Please stop trying to fill up our life in a self-protective way, but to reach out with love, to protects somebody else, and to perform simple acts of love. This way, we become a loyal subject of Christ the King, and then we will discover the secret of this power. Ultimately, we will get this sublime and sacred joke right – which is the drama, the beauty, and the wonder of this feast, the Feast of Christ The King.

This is an excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron’s homilies, including “Christ the Crucified King”, “Christ the King”, and “Three Aspects of Christ’s Kingship”. For more information, please visit

Posted: November 24, 2019

Ben Cheng


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