'In time of trial do not leave your monastery but stand up courageously against the thoughts that surge over you, especially those of irritation and listlessness. For when you have been tested by afflictions in this way, according to divine providence, your hope in God will become firm and secure. But if you leave, you will show yourself to be worthless, unmanly and fickle.'
St. Maximos the Confessor
My advice: Skip the Gospel lesson for this Sunday. I mean it. By the time you have managed to have a lector make his way through the 7th chapter of Daniel and the 1st chapter of Revelation, the thought: Oh, no, end times again, will certainly have made it through everyone’s brain.
It is not as if any of us know anything about kings. In America we live in a democracy. We're not Mediterranean peasants from Galilee. We're not even Roman soldiers from the provinces. Now end times, there is something we can theorize about Will be a lot more fun anyhow.
Ask yourself: how is Christ king of your life? You don't even know what a king is or how to live under one.
But a festival of Christ the King we have. It seems that the Franciscans had a hand in creating it. Only they did not call it Christ the King Sunday at least not originally.
John Piich writes:
The Franciscans who helped develop this observance called it “the feast of the absolute predestination of Christ.” Taking their cue from texts like Colossians 1:15, they reasoned that Christ was the firstborn of all creation. God who exists outside of time knows the existence of all creation at once. To create the first flesh-and-blood human in the divine image and likeness, God needed a flesh-and-blood model. Jesus incarnate was that model. This is how the Franciscans understood the kingship of Christ.
What does Colossians say you ask? Here it is:
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Why mention all of this? Well, has Christ, or the Son of Man, somehow has “become” king in some cosmic battle or superior bargain? The originators of the celebration of Christ the King had a better idea: He has always been and always will be King. There is always a temptation to ignore the past. In term of the church there is the temptation to look for the eschaton but ignore the Old Testament. Colossians 1 will not let you do that. He how will come in the clouds as Lord of Heaven and earth was Lord of Heaven and Earth in Babylon at the time of Daniel , and in Jerusalem at the time of David, and at the oak of Marmne, and at the beginning of light.
Walt Bouman of blessed memory used to insist that: “The Gospel was not a fix up job.” By that he meant to say that Christ Jesus was always coming into the world from the birth of light onward because the Kingdom of God was never in the history of Faith ever in retreat. It was always coming.
The church continues to pray and watch for it even today. She knows, like Revelation and Daniel, that it will come in trans cosmic cataclysm and splendor, angels and the Ancient of Days and all, but she also knows that the one coming as the King is crowned already today and that the Kingdom is not without a clear presence even now.
And so she prays and hopes and trusts that, no matter what befall her or the world around her, he holds all creation together.