Each of the four Gospels mentions that, when Jesus was crucified, an inscription placed above his head on the cross read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” When was the last time I thought of Jesus as King? From the days of its founding, the United States has always rejected any effort to impose a king’s rule over it. Jesus, too, rejected kingship in any worldly or political sense and all our suppositions about kingliness are turned upside-down in the Gospels.

Ever since Adam and Eve people have longed for a ruler who would usher the whole human family into a kingdom of justice and peace. What Christians have recognized in Jesus over the centuries is this: here is a King of redeeming love, the humble servant of all. Remember the old Quaker hymn: “When Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?”

—Fr. Paul Harman, S.J. is a Jesuit of the USA Northeast Province. He has worked in Jesuit formation and over many years has been a valued administrator at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.