Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sollemnitas Domini Nostri Iesu Christi Universorum Regis

Well, that's a little more dignified sounding than "Christ the King", as it was listed on my parish bulletin today. We are an incarnational Church, and I have often blogged about my views regarding the principle I call Imagines Dei (I would give a list of links to some of my earlier posts on the topoic, but I'm so utterly amêkhanos when it comes to such things that I think I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to try to find them all). In my view, all of reality, right down to the lowliest quark, is shot through with a deeper meaning that can only be grasped in light of the Gospel. At a higher level of organization than quarks are people--and we are (images of God) in a special way when we are together in that unity that is the Church, the Body of Christ, itself a more perfect imago Dei.

Today's Sollemnity brings this into rather high relief for me. The Latin word for king, rex, is derived from a root that means a rule. A king is not merely a ruler, he is the rule itself. When God chose the Jewish people from among all the people of the earth to be his particular beloved, part of the choice involved stamping his law upon their hearts so that they could become imagines Dei in this most special sense: living images of the divine law of God written on the hearts of men for all to see. Of course, they did not always live out their lives in perfect harmony with God's law--hey, nobody's perfect--but when Jesus, the God-Man, came among us, all of that changed. Now there was a man who was the most perfect imago Dei possible, a living and breathing rex in the radical sense: the actual embodiment (incarnation) of the Divine Law of God lived and moved and had its being among us, giving us an example to follow and, more importantly, a rex, both a ruler and a rule. He is the rex regum, king of kings (or law of laws, rule of rules), because there is no law or precept that stands above him--he is God incarnate, the very source and origin of all law and rule. (Plato, I think, would agree that this is the solution to "Euthyphro's Dilemma".)

And by his life and teachings he revealed to us God's nature, taking upon himself the function that had previously been filled by the Jewish people as a whole: to be the living instantiation of God's love in the world. Our task is not an easy one: to make him the rex in our lives by living as best we can as imagines of Him. Like the Jewish people of old, we don't always live up to snuff. Happily, this particular rex is a merciful one, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Long live the King.

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