CHAPTER IV. JESUS CHRIST BORN TRUE KING OF MANKIND
IT is not given to every one who wishes, to be a king. Regal dignity is bestowed either by the votes of electors or by right of birth. The Saviour of the world was king both by the choice of His eternal Father and by reason of His marvellous birth.
From all eternity God had ordained that His only-begotten Son should be made man by virtue of that strict union known as hypostatic, by which the human nature of Jesus Christ, in the moment of its formation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was united with the eternal Word in the oneness of per son; that is, in the person of our Redeemer, God and Man together.
Along with this, God also decreed that perfect dominion over all creation should belong as of right to this Sacred Humanity of Our Redeemer and that the God-Man, Jesus Christ, should have a true, distinct and paramount authority over all mankind. It is for this reason that our divine Saviour, the Lamb of God, who is to wage war until the end of the world against Antichrist and all his satellites and conquer them, is called by St. John "Lord of lords and King of kings." (Apoc. XVII, 14)
So much, indeed, was due to this most sacred Humanity which was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the virginal womb of Mary and was to share—as far as any created being can share—the supreme do minion which God wields over all the works of his hand. Let us give ear to the inspired words which the royal Prophet puts in the mouth of the future Messias: "l am appointed King by him, over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment. The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." (ls. II, 6-8.) This, then, is the reason of the regal dignity of Jesus Christ. Because He was the true Son of God, He received from His Father do minion over all mankind, who are bound to offer Him respect, obedience and tribute. This was as a befitting dowry of His Humanity in its mystical wedding with the Divinity.
But it was not enough for the eternal Father to have predestined Jesus Christ from all eternity to be the supreme King of the whole human race. He, whose very operation is marked with the stamp of infinite wisdom, wished moreover, to impress upon the temporal birth of His Son such a seal of honor and dignity, that this newly-born Babe might appear to the eyes of Heaven and earth as true King and Lord of humanity.
First of all, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin in order to announce to her, on the part of God, that the mystery of the Incarnation was soon to be accomplished in her virginal womb, he thus portrayed to her mind the prerogatives of this her future Son (Luke I, 32, 33.) : "He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his Kingdom there shall be no end"
This is as much as to say that the son who was to be born of the Virgin Mary was to be the King Israel had so long wished for and expected; he was to be the son of David ac cording to the flesh and was to inherit the royal throne from him. But that temporal throne existed no longer: the scepter of Juda had passed into strangers' hands and was not to come back to the Hebrew people. How, then, shall the future Messias reign over the house of Jacob? The only answer is this: He will reign in a fashion not temporal, but spiritual, not over the material descendants of Jacob only, but over his spiritual progeny, over the whole Church composed of Hebrews and Gen tiles united in the oneness of faith, and He will reign over them forever.
But, behold, this idea of the spiritual Kingdom of Christ over mankind is more and more clearly brought out in the inspired books of the New Testament.
If we read the genealogy of Our Lord placed by St. Matthew at the beginning of his Gospel, we shall find that the first person mentioned in the list of kings who are given as ancestors of Jesus Christ is David, who is expressly called King: "Jesse begot David the King." (Matth. I, 6.) Now, this evidently signifies that the future Messias, called expressly Son of David and so acclaimed by the multitude, was to inherit the scepter of regal dignity which the celebrated prophecy of Isaias assigns to him: "He shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom" (Is IX, 7.)
At the same time, we should observe that to David only, in the whole list of kings, is this kingly title given; because David, more than all the others, prefigured the power, the meekness and the singular goodness of the future King of our hearts. And, therefore, God willed that Jesus should be born of a Virgin of the branch of the royal house of David, to make us understand that He had destined Him to be the loving King and Sovereign of all the redeemed.
Now, we ask, could the Father have declared in a more eloquent and persuasive fashion that it was His will that Jesus Christ as Man should divide with Him the empire of the world? What king, what emperor, can boast of so noble an origin as that of Our Saviour?
What cradle, however bedecked with rich quilts and adorned with fine gold, is worthy to be put alongside the manger in which Mary laid her newly-born Son? What coat-of-arms, however richly blazoned and however famous in history, can be compared with that of the Son of Mary, which bears nothing but the three letters: I. H. S., lesus Hominum Salvator —"Jesus, Saviour of mankind?" What crown, though bedizened with diamonds of the first water, can be set beside that which His Father placed on the head of the divine Child: "Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor and hast set him over the works of thy hands" (Ps. VIII, 6-7.)
Hence, although Jesus Christ appeared from His birth modest and humble, He was from His entry into the world presented to men by His Father as King and Lord of the universe, as the Prophet has expressly put it: "l will make him my first-born, high above the kings of the earth . . . , and his throne as the sun before me, and as the moon perfect forever." (Ps. LXXXVIII, 28, 38.)
However, God wished to hide His Son's majesty and glory from our eyes and cover it with the cloak of meekness and tenderness. He wished to make it understood that Jesus Christ was not to rule by force or lord it over us through riches, but to govern and conquer men by love. Just as He was announced by the prophets as the Saviour of the world, and David rejoiced in his distant vision, pouring forth hymns to his meek sovereignty, so the Father has willed that we should with one voice recognize and proclaim as King of our hearts, our sweet Sovereign, our beloved Emperor, Jesus, whose scepter is no sign of tyranny and oppression but of charity and salvation. "The Lord is our King: he will save us" (Is. XXXIII, 22.)
But what name shall be given Him if not one designed to signify this prerogative of King of our hearts? His name pronounced for the first time in the divine decrees, revealed in time by Angels, bestowed on Him by Mary and Joseph and sealed by His own blood, is the sweet name of Jesus which means "Saviour." This ineffable name which expresses in itself the end for which He was made Man and all He has done and suffered for us, re minds us also that He is our loving King and the sweet Sovereign of our hearts.
Let us beseech our dear King, Jesus, to fill our hearts with the sweet balm of His most holy name. May the sweetness of its odor be diffused through all our powers and may it in form all our actions. May it be the aspiration of our souls and the pledge of our eternal salvation.
Let us also beseech Our Lady that, as she was the first to pronounce this lovable name of life and salvation—and never did she pronounce it save in accents of most vivid faith and ardent love—we, too, may utter it with deep reverence and heartfelt love; so that it may become in our mouths as it should be in our hearts, a balm of sweetest odor: "Thy name is as oil poured out." (Cant. I, 2.)