The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
15 Nov 2021
Sr. Laurie Brink, OP

Reading 1: Daniel: 7:13-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm: Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5
Reading 2: Revelation: 1:5-8
Gospel: John: 18:33b-37

This Sunday culminates our lectionary cycle, closing Ordinary Time for Year B and preparing us for the coming season of Advent. Think of Christ the King as our liturgical New Year’s Eve. We stand at the end of another year of worship. These end-time-themed Scriptures often advise us to be “sober and alert” (1 Peter 5:5), “watch” (Mark 13:37), be prepared (Matt 25:1-13) and make good use of this time (Luke 19:12-27). But with today’s readings, our vision is widened. Revelation speaks of Jesus as ruler of all the kings of the earth. The Johannine Jesus announces that his kingdom is not of this world. As the title of this Sunday aptly states, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Our readings introduce us to the “Ancient One” (sometimes translated as the Ancient of Days), a name of God only found here in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22. Unlike the earthly kings, the Ancient One rules without beginning or end. And this rule is extended to one like a Son of Man (Dan 7:13). The Book of Revelation picks up this imagery and recognizes Jesus Christ as “the Alpha and the Omega…the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” In the Gospel, Pilate asks if Jesus is the king of the Jews. Jesus doesn’t answer directly (“You say I am a king,” John 18:37). The kingdom of the Johannine Jesus is the kingdom of truth, and its citizens are those who listen to Jesus’ voice (John 18:37). Jesus’ very incarnation (“For this I was born,” John 18:37) was in order that he might testify to that truth.

The Jesuit paleontologist and theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, understood the universality of Christ’s reign as cosmic in scope. Teilhard “urged Christians to participate the process of Christogenesis, to risk, get involved, aim toward union with others, for the entire creation is waiting to give birth to God.”[1]

Pope Francis echoes this sentiment. “The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things” (Laudato Si’ #83).

But it isn’t enough to wait for this fulness of creation. There is work for us to do. Pope Francis urges our advocacy on behalf of our common home. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform ( is an international effort of Catholic organizations to strive towards full sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology. The LSAP states each person’s “culture, experience, involvements, and talents” are needed on our journey towards greater love for our Creator, each other, and the home we share. (Laudato Si’ #14)

Recognizing Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe as the Cosmic Christ is the ultimate both/and — described in Scripture, born out in tradition, and verified in our personal experiences of prayer and encounter. But the Cosmic Christ is also the direction forward. As Elizabeth Johnson writes, “Those who believe in Christ make a wager that love as Jesus enfleshed it in a human way reveals the ineffable compassion of God; this love is the meaning encoded at the core of human life and at the heart of the universe itself.”[2]


Sr. Laurie Brink, OP
Professor of New Testament Studies


[1] Ilia Delio, Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015), 93.

[2] Elizabeth A. Johnson, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 201.