Paul on Paul – 22nd November 2020

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe; Year A
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.

Have you ever got the to the end of a TV series, film or book and then, once you’ve finished it, gone back and watched it again from the start? It can be interesting to see the same things that we saw, but with more information about the characters and their motives and what’s happening. It can sometimes give us new insight into what we’re seeing and hearing. This Sunday is the ‘Series Finale’ of the Church’s Liturgical year – and what a finish.

Sometimes, today’s Sunday is simply called “The Feast of Christ the King”, but the full name of today’s feast is my favourite in the Church’s entire Calendar: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Not just ‘the world’, but every single thing in the Universe!

St. Paul really gets to the heart of everything in this passage from his letter to the Corinthian Church. The whole of Chapter 15 is focussed on the most fundamental belief of our faith: The Resurrection of Christ. Why, because Jesus Christ is King of the Universe – even death.

Without the Resurrection, what is the point Christianity? If we do not accept that Jesus was fully God and fully human; that he died, but then really rose from the dead; and that in doing so he broke the hold of death over us – what is the point? As Paul puts it, death and sin came though Adam and, just as that fall fundamentally changed our human nature, new life and comes through Jesus, which fundamentally changes our Christian nature – and with it, redemption and God’s mercy. Because Jesus Christ is King of the Universe – even sin.

And Christ leads the way as the “first-fruits” of His Resurrection. He is the first person to enjoy eternity with God the Father – both His father and ours – and we are bound to follow Him and His example, as people of any other kingdom would. He will do away with all other things that control us, both internally and externally, including death and sin. Because Jesus Christ is King of the Universe – even earthly sovereignty, authority and powers.

And when he is done – when he has assumed his Kingship over death and sin and earthly sovereignty, authority and powers – when all things are under him, Jesus will himself surrender his Kingship of the Universe to the one who is outside and created the Universe. Because then, when all is done, all things will be one with and in God our Father – just as Jesus and the Father are one with the Holy Spirit.

So with that end of all things in mind, shared by Holy Mother Church at the end of her year, we prepare to enter Advent. We prepare to welcome a baby born into our world who, after all things, will welcome us into his. And that baby, who died with a sign above him deriding him as “King of the Jews” has, in fact, risen and is “King of the Universe”.

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