This week we rightly focus on the joy of another Thanksgiving Day with well-deserved time for family and friends. But we also celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King this weekend, marking the close of another Church year. It’s a good time to ask two simple questions: What sort of king is Jesus Christ, and what does his kingship mean for us?
Let’s start with some background.
Book - Exodus - Christian - Scholar - Origen
In his fourth homily on the Book of Exodus, the early Christian scholar Origen of Alexandria wrote that “it is far better to die in the desert than to serve the Egyptians.” Those are strong words. They were Origen’s firm rebuke to those Hebrews in Scripture (Ex 14:12) who longed to go back to slavery in Egypt rather than risk death in the wilderness after their escape. For Origen, like Moses, there is only one God — and anything less than trust in God alone is a form of idolatry.
Origen spoke from direct experience. He lived through fierce periodic persecutions of the Christian community in the late second and early third centuries. And his words echo another great early Christian text, the Letter to Diognetus, written in the second century by an anonymous Christian author facing the same bloody violence from the pagan world.
Origen - Letter - Sign - Compromise - Cowardice
As with Origen, the Letter shows no sign of compromise or cowardice in its language; quite the opposite. It mocks the foolishness of pagan idolatry. It warns Diognetus, the pagan, that “these things [made of wood, brass, iron and silver] that you call gods, these you serve, these you worship, and [in the end] you become altogether like them.” In other words, idolatry does not ennoble man; it dehumanizes him. The Letter goes on to contrast the emptiness and misery of the pagan world with the mercy and love of the...
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