The feast of Christ the King in the Catholic liturgical calendar is a celebration that I have always had some difficulty with, and this has not been assuaged by understanding how the feast came to be instituted. This poem, I hope, expresses my feelings…
The feast of Christ the King
Is somewhat misleading.
If we know its provenance,
We might spot a backward stance.
Why such a disrespectful view
From one accustomed to the pew?
Why take pot shots at this feast
Duly ordained by God and priest?
By a Church feeling intimidated:
The old embrace of throne and altar,
Long established but beginning to falter.
A radical new political creed,
Spreading and threatening to succeed.
The name of this dreadful blasphemy?
People power – the rise of democracy!
Behold the wretch upon the tree:
Byword for grim poverty.
A man who drew official scorn,
Left to die, bereft, forlorn.
What has royal, courtly might
To do with such a ghastly sight?
Were his legions all defeated?
What great struggle left him unseated?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”.
“The meek and lowly will inherit”.
Good news tailored for the least –
Not those quaffing at the feast.
“Come to me, you that are stressed;
Have no fear – you will find rest”.
Not the words of someone who
Is accessed by a wealthy few.
A monarchy is built upon,
The glorification of just one;
Bepedestalled, a chosen soul;
Not elected by any poll.
Is it the ‘humble preacher’ story,
Or the Christ enthroned in glory?
Exactly what vision of this man,
Do we want the world to understand?
Jesus: friend, gentle counsellor,
Beloved brother, god sent saviour.
Not the distant, pompous sire,
Ensconced in glittering attire.
Yet Jesus is a king for sure,
A king for sinners and the poor;
Crowned with thorns, bloodied too,
His body broken, for me and you.
The problem with this feast, therefore,
Is our perception – nothing more.
Yet perception matters, does it not?
Off-putting images spoil the plot.
Can we therefore celebrate
A feast which tends to militate
Against the dear-bought sacrifice,
Which opens to us eternal life?