Readings (Year C):
Reflection: We aren’t yet at our journey’s end.
There is a lesser-known Disney princess—Elena of Avalor—who has recently recaptured my five-year-old daughter’s attention. I say ‘recaptured’ because there is not an inch of Disney princess real estate our household has not traversed at least a half dozen times over the last three years. She and I sat together and rewatched the three-episode arc—conveniently embedded in another Disney princess show, Sofia the First—that kickstarts Elena’s story. It’s about a princess trapped in an amulet needing to be freed and then having to retake her kingdom from an evil sorceress—you get it.
My daughter has seen these episodes before. She’s watched the entire three seasons of Elena of Avalor; she knows how it turns out. She knows Elena wins in the end, becomes the queen of Avalor, saves the day. And yet, as we rewatched those episodes, she kept turning to me: “Dad, is Elena going to be okay? Is she going to defeat Shuriki?”
And I kept turning back, eyebrows raised. “Haven’t you seen this before?”
I received a sheepish shrug and half a grin in response before she turned back to watch the unfolding of those animated events.
For better or for worse, Disney princesses are among the first topics I think of when I think of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Something about the invocation of royalty, I suppose. We’re tempted, I think, to see in the sovereignty of Christ nothing but golden crowns and jewel-encrusted scepters and power wielded for good and right. We see the thrones and the legions of angels and the long, storied halls of power and glory. We see, in short, the end of the story.
But the Christian life is a journey, a pilgrimage, and we aren’t yet at its end. We still have the ongoing task of putting one foot in front of the other, of discerning next steps and best choices, big, small, and in between. The end of the story is nice, but we’re still in the middle.
And that’s where I think my daughter’s observation is essential: Though we know how the story ends, we still need to ask how we, in our unique stories, get there. And that means looking not only at the end of Jesus’ story—of Christ the King—but at how Jesus arrived in that place.
Poverty. Humility. Rejection. Mockery. Death on a cross.
Not always how we think about kings and queens, princesses, and others of royal fame, right? So often, it’s power and prestige that win the realm, but that’s not how our God works. That’s not what elevated Christ to the proverbial throne. And it’s not how we will get to the end of the story. We, too, must follow that path of downward mobility: poverty, humility, and rejection.
Let’s not get lost in the story’s ending. Let’s keep asking ourselves what comes next, and how God is at work therein.