Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Kingly Rule

FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY

(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)

KINGLY RULE

            In most countries in North America and Europe the roles of kings are gradually declining and losing their pragmatic significance. We still have the Queen of England, King of Spain, and the others but their roles seem to be restricted to ceremonial roles. They are still respected and adored but definitely few people “worship” them. Democracy has replaced monarchial rule and is popular among men and women of our time.

            In Africa and some parts of Asia and South America, kings still play important roles. They are influential in day to day activities of their people. In these parts of the world decrees from chiefs carry weight more than those from civil authorities. But in recent times, the politicization of the chieftaincy institution leaves much to be desired. Growing up in the palace of my Dad it was difficult to hear people insult him. People respected my Dad (chief of our town) to the extent that we (children) enjoyed a lot of privileges. But that respect for chiefs is fading and if they do not stay out of politics, they will lose their respect as many of our politicians have. There are some corrupt chiefs in our midst. We read in the past of chiefs who sacrificed their lives for the safety of their subjects and today some of them are doing their best to help their people by providing clean water and other amenities but some are milking their own people.

            Whether in Europe, America, Asia, or Africa, kings were served and enjoyed other powerful privileges. But today, we are celebrating a king who came to serve and not be served and to give his life as a ransom for many. His kingship came under scrutiny especially when he was brought before Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus’ reply was “Yes, I am a king, I was born for this…” That reply was rather unexpected. We recall that on several occasions when the Jews had tried to make him a king, he ran away. But again, that can be explained by what he had earlier told Pilate: “Mine is not a kingdom of this world…my kingdom is not…of this kind.” What Jesus ran away from was kingship of this world. He did not want any part of it. His was a different kind of kingdom.

            To begin with, his kingdom was not a geographical territory, like the Kingdom of Great Britain or the Asante Kingdom. His was a spiritual kingdom. His reign would be over the hearts and minds of people, not over a geographical entity. That kind of kingdom does not come to an end, as we are told in our first reading. “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall not pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed.” Earthly kingdoms pass away, just as earthly empires get destroyed sooner or later. Secondly, the guiding principles of his kingdom would be different from those of this world’s kingdoms. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, the Kingdom of Jesus, would be a “a kingdom of truth, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Jesus himself mentioned the first attribute listed in this description in his response to Pilate. He said, “I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.

            We have a king who is ready to serve us and not us serving him. He is ready to sacrifice himself for us so that we may have life and have it in abundance. What he demands of us is to give him the chance to rule in hearts. Remember if he is given the chance to rule, goodness and mercies will follow the ruled subjects all the days of their lives.

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