The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | Catholic National Register
“Grant, we pray, that all creation, freed from slavery, render service to your majesty and unceasingly proclaim your praise. “
At the end of the liturgical year, we also close a year of Scriptures and art. The purpose of this blogging series was twofold: to recognize the extent of the cultural influence that Catholic themes have exerted in the fine arts and to provide readers with an informal introduction to elements of art history through the prism of the Sunday Gospels. Publishing is always a challenge, as writers rarely appreciate feedback on what readers think about a project. Your comments in the comments section below are welcome.
Since the Reform of the Roman Calendar of 1969, the last Sunday of the ecclesial year is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. If he divides the previous liturgical tradition of presenting the Last Judgment Gospels on the last and first Sunday of the liturgical year, he reminds us that the history of salvation does not tend to What but one who – to Jesus Christ, whose triumph over sin and death is the last word of the Word made flesh (John 1:14) who can save us.
The gospels for this solemnity have two themes. In Year A (2020), the Gospel (Matthew 25: 31-46) featured a scene from the Last Judgment, where judgment is rendered according to the Beatitudes. In year B (2021) and year C (2022), the gospels focus on excerpts from the Passion accounts, where the kingship of Jesus is either questioned by Pilate (this year, where John 18: 33b-37 replaces Mark) or recognized by the good thief (Luke 23: 35-43). Since the identity of Jesus is defined by Mark in relation to his passion, death and resurrection, the extract from John fits well.
Throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus invoked the “messianic secret” – trying to avoid an overly strong premature proclamation of his identity – because he understands that his identity is only understandable in the context of his. passion, death and resurrection. Trying to explain his identity outside of this context, especially given the Messianic political expectations of Jesus ‘day, only served to clutter rather than advance Jesus’ mission. Once Jesus is resurrected, he sends them (Mark 16:15, 20) because now they can finally figure it out.
Pilate encounters the same problem, but not for religious reasons. He knows that the Jewish religious establishment delivered Jesus to him out of envy (Matthew 27:18), but they continued to refer to Jesus as a “king.” Pilate knew he was sitting atop a powder keg in Jerusalem – Israel had never really acquiesced to Roman rule in the nearly a century since its conquest. Barabbas, the criminal in prison for whom Pilate wants to exchange Jesus, was an insurrectionist. Pilate knew his job was to keep order.
So, if Jesus is a “king,” it is worth studying the question. Perhaps he is just another of those Jewish religious fanatics. Or maybe he’s in trouble. Pilate does not need political problems.
This is the crux of the Gospel today. Pilate thinks of “kingship” in traditional political terms. Jesus thinks of it in spiritual terms.
This does not mean that these spiritual terms do not threaten the political. People who take their faith seriously will always relativize Caesar’s claims. And Caesar doesn’t like it. Even if he is elected.
Vatican II speaks of Christians as participating in the “triple office of Christ”. Christians, by virtue of baptism, are priests, prophets and kings. They must offer the sacrifice of worship to God. They must bear witness to the Truth, just as Jesus says in today’s Gospel (and which today’s Caesars, like Pilate, treat with the same cynicism). And they must be kings, who rule themselves by truth and moral uprightness. They may not have political power or influence, but they have the moral testimony to stand up for the truth even when those with power and influence ask, “What is truth?”
Although not in today’s Gospel, it is interesting how in John the Jewish religious establishment compromises on the question of kingship. Israel had long resisted a king in order to emphasize that God alone was the king of Israel. Yahweh’s rule over Israel was the keystone of Jewish identity. Yet when Pilate mockingly (but precisely) asks what to “do with your king,” that is, Jesus, the chief priests expressed the ultimate apostasy contradicting over a thousand years of identity. Jewish: “We have no king except Caesar. ”(John 19:15).
The gospel of today was represented by the Italian-Swiss painter of the 19th century, Antonio Ciseri. Ciseri’s 1871 “Ecce homo” (Behold, the man! – based on John 19: 5) depicts Pilate’s effort to negotiate with the crowd over the fate of Jesus, an effort in which he does not. a lot of progress. Pilate designates “man”. Jesus is bound, though we don’t see one thing we should: the scourging marks on his back. Critically important to today’s gospel, he stands there in the red (purple) robe (John 19: 2, 5), the color of kingship in which the soldiers dressed him for. taunt him, and a “crown” of thorns on the head, another effect of the soldiers’ “king’s game”. This is the kind of king that Jesus is: a witness to the truth, not a political actor.
The spectator is a spectator of the scene “from the inside”, that is to say inside the court of Pilate. Helmeted Roman soldiers and their local aide stand by Jesus’ side, along with the bureaucratic administration behind Pilate’s judicial seat. Other staff, attendants and the court hang out to the left. The woman removed from the scene is probably the wife of Pilate, whom tradition calls Procula. According to Matthew 27:19 – the only place where she is mentioned – she would have sent a message to her husband to avoid meddling in Jesus’ business because “I suffered a lot that day in a dream. because of him “.
The painter Ciseri spent most of his life first in Italian Switzerland, then in Florence. His figures are said to reflect Raphael in style and composition, but his paintings also seem to have an almost photographic quality (photography took on its full meaning in the 19th century). His skills were recognized very early on at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Ciseri has received numerous commissions for religious art in Ticino and Italy, although Ecce homo was, according to SIKART (the Swiss art information website), in fact commissioned by the Italian government.