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Spirituality of the Readings
Solemnity of Our Lord
Jesus Christ
The King of the Universe, B
November 21, 2021
John Foley, SJ
What Kind of King?

Once there was a king named Arthur. You remember him, the one who thought up the Round Table and had Lancelot as his knight and Guinevere as his wife.*

Long before he became king, in fact when he was just an infant in the cradle, a strange thing happened. The nurse stepped out for a moment and, quick as a wink, Merlin the magician stepped in and then stepped out again …

… taking the boy with him.

Jesus was “king” because he understood every minutest texture of everyone’s life and world.

This was not a kidnapping. Merlin was a kindly old magician and his commission was to let the boy grow up as a normal—not a spoiled, pampered or “royal”—person. He was not to be miles above the animals and the people and the tiny, precious specks of beauty in the most surprising places in our lives.

He was to live with us.

So Merlin transported Arthur to a bedraggled castle ruled by a third-rate Lord named Sir Ector. The people were nice enough, and ordinary, and the crannies and nooks of the castle were perfect for a little kid to hide in and the halls for him to run around in.

All the servants and even the lords and ladies were his friends.

How could they not be? He was an ordinary lad, though he would be king one day. They called him Wart (which in those days rhymed with Art, which was short for Arthur).

Merlin, funny old character, decided to educate Wart in a special way. Magically, he changed the boy into various and sundry animals, each for a time. He turned him into a hawk, for instance—to witness first-hand the world as it appeared in a hawk's eyes. Or a fish. In fact, especially a fish because Wart could then attend a formal “school of fishes” and learn from their teacher.

It seems that Jesus had a few things in common with the Wart. Jesus was not called “King” or “your highness” as a boy, any more than Wart was referred to as “your majesty.” This one was called “Jesus,”** a common name in those days. He played outside, helped his dad, rolled in the mud, cut his finger, even helped birds to fly. And his mom was his very most favorite person.

He had a teacher who was even better at teaching than Merlin: the Spirit of God. It helped him through the creeks and cubbyholes of the earth and made him friends with the funny, sweet people who lived all around.

Both Wart and Jesus did grow up to be the kind of king they were meant to be. But they brought new images of a king. Their love was not just for the noble and the mighty but love for everyone. They were lowly. Jesus was “king” because he understood every minutest texture of everyone’s life and world.

Pilate would ask Jesus if he were a king. He was, specifically, but not in any way Pilate could have imagined. Smallness was his power. Persuasion was his scepter, along with an amazing ability to teach.

He was Christ the King.

Oh, I almost forgot. I typed a wrong key when I began writing, and hit a “d” instead of a “g” at the end of the word King. It came out “Christ the Kind.”

This is who we will find waiting for us on Sunday.

John Foley, SJ
* This story of Arthur is based on the first book (The Sword in the Stone) of the wonderful series of novels by T. H. White called The Once and Future King (New York: Penguin/Putnam Inc., 1965),.
 ** It is said that the real name of the one we call Jesus was actually Yeshua, and that people would have called him by that name. This is probably correct, except that “Jesus” is the translation of Yeshua into our language, not a substitution of one name for another.