Today's readings focus on the kingship of Jesus Christ. In the final week of the 2006 liturgical year, the Church's focus shifts to the end times - heaven, hell, death, and judgment. In order to continue on our pilgrimage of faith toward these final things, we need a strong leader to follow - Christ the King.
A great leader is one that leads from the front lines, walking into battle at the head of his army. A great leader shares the risk, the suffering, and the trials of his people.
In the reading from Revelation (Rev 1:5-8), John calls Jesus by an unusual title - "first-born of the dead". It seems contradictory to be born and dead, but John is not speaking of our first human birth here. Jesus was the first human being to be born into new life, to be resurrected from death and present in body and spirit with God the Father.
Jesus is a great leader and shared in his people's suffering, even the ultimate human suffering of death. We can follow our king into death because we will follow Him, as well, out of death and into new life - to be born of the dead, as Christ was.