This weekend we mark the closing of the Liturgical Year. So it is that this weekend the liturgy attempts to present us with an image that somehow sort of sums up all that has been said.
In the First Reading, Daniel is recording his vision of Christ, centuries before Christ is born. He speaks of the Son of God who approaches the throne of the Ancient One, a Hebrew title for God, and receives from God dominion over all creation.
In the Second Reading, John uses Christ’s own words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. The One who is, and who was, and who is to come …. the Almighty”. In this there is a clear echo of the very first thing that God revealed to God’s people when he told his name to Moses, “My name is Yahweh, the One who is, who continues to be”.
To reveal the truth of God’s relentless existence, and the effect that it must have on human understanding, the scriptural authors use the image of royalty. The victim, the shepherd, the prophet, the redeemer, the teacher, is ultimately the Lord, Christ the King.
Probably, at the time these passages were written, it was easier for people to relate to the image of a king than it is for us today. But perhaps that helps to underscore the real nature of Christ’s Kingship: From the Gospel, “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Christ is not like other kings. All of the usual trappings of power, all the things on which rulers depend to maintain their authority, wealth, fear, control, even violence, none of these have anything to do with building the Kingdom of God, and none of these are worth anything at all in a person’s attempt to find a place in that Kingdom.
But even though it is true that the kingdom of God is not yet to be found very fully realised in our earthly institutions and societies, that really should not be discouraging. After all, we have been told that that is not where we should expect to find it. The kingdom, Christ said, is begun with you. The fact that it is difficult to see doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It does indeed exist, and it continues to grow in the efforts of millions of virtuous people who selflessly shoulder the burdens and responsibilities of a very important world, people who seek out and recognise the truth, and translate that truth into virtuous lives, regardless of how out of step that may make them seem in the eyes of the rest of the world.
From the first moment of created time, till the last moment of time, and on into eternity, the Alpha and the Omega, the renewing presence of Christ gives shape and direction to everything we must do and be. The reign of Christ is the ultimate truth.
It is the final fact of our lives.