In a polarized political world, we often hear the labels “RINOs” and “DINOs”. Another way of saying it is to fly a “false flag” or give the appearance of something one is not. Political figures use it to describe someone who wears one label but acts like a member of another party.

We’ve also heard the expression… “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” Sometimes it is referred to as “the duck test”.

Jesus had his own way of saying it. “By their fruits, you will know them”.

As I was thinking about the feast of Christ the King, I wondered how the “duck test” might apply to followers of Christ the King.

Characteristics of Christ the king

So, first, let’s look at the characteristics of Christ the King

Christ the king breaks the mold of earthly rulers in at least three ways.

He Identifies with everyone

Christ the King identifies with each one of us no matter how badly disfigured. He identifies with everyone who is hungry, thirsty, sick, lonely, a foreigner, in prison, and a stranger.

He is in

  • the needy, whether rich or poor
  • the discouraged loved one who cannot find a job
  • our children, who need to be taught and encouraged
  • a co-worker who just lost his wife; the patient who was diagnosed with cancer
  • the lost family member who needs instruction and to be drawn back to the Sacraments
  • our struggles and needs.

He serves all

At his last supper, Jesus washed the feet of disciples, something a lowly servant did for his master. He became their servant.

Then he pointedly asked them. Do you understand what I have done? I, your Lord and Master (King), have washed your feet. I want you to wash one another’s feet in love .Lest we miss the point. he even added, “Do this in memory of me!”

Yet we cannot reduce “care” merely to comforting and consoling. Sometimes the “caring” thing to do is to rebuke, warn. God never ceases to care for us. Sometimes his care manifests itself in the unwelcome package of challenges that lead to growth. Think of the times his care took the form or correction of disciples.

He deeply respects the freedom of all

Jesus is a King who respects our freedom to decide whether to have Him as our King and live as he did, or not. Anyone who chooses not to live these characteristics creates a separate space outside this kingdom, space filled with isolation and fierce competition.

Christ is a King who does not force His kingship and laws. Rather he offers his example to all and allows each of us to decide which space we choose.

Identifying the followers of Christ the King

The “duck test” principle offers a way to determine who understands the kingship of Christ the King.

Followers of Christ the King understand the call to freely serve each other because we see in each person, no matter what scars, a participation in being Christ.

In our lives, people see images of Christ the King,  Together we manifest what the Eucharistic Preface of the feast of Christ the King describes as “an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.”

Do we, individually and collectively, look and act like people who serve one another because we recognize we are the body of Christ?

This post drew on a homily by Msgr. Charles Pope – “Not Your Average King”