The liturgy of the past days has been leading up to this point. After painting for us a truly apocalyptic picture of the end times, we come to realize once again that, frightening though it may seem, the end turns out not to be a simple end after all, but rather a climax, a fulfillment, a culmination. In this feast that we are celebrating this Sunday, we gaze upon Christ in whom—as the opening prayer of the Mass tells us—the Father’s will to restore all things is accomplished. The solemn feast of Christ the King allows us to reflect once again that human history—and that of creation—ends in the same place from where it started: in the loving hands of God, a God whom man has come to love and embrace in Christ.
This is a positive thing, and this teaches us that the Christian, the child of God, has nothing to fear of the future, because though things may seem to fall apart, we will still fall into the hands of our Father God, to whom we approach in Christ.
The feast also allows us to contemplate the face of Christ. This is a face that we have adored as an infant in Bethlehem, as a man in his prime; one that has left us speechless as we gazed upon it, disfigured, bruised, bloody as he hung on the cross. This was the face that the disciples had seen glorified after the resurrection.
Once again we fix our gaze upon it, a face that is majestic and full of glory. It is precisely this that the readings of the liturgy would like to direct us to: the glory of the Son of Man, majestic, kingly, exercising dominion and authority over all creation, over the universe, over the cosmos. This is not merely the majesty of some great king, but one who has the very characteristics of God: in the vision of the prophet Daniel in the First Reading, we see the one like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, who received dominion, glory and kingship. The same is said in the book of Revelation, in the Second Reading, which speaks to us of Jesus Christ, coming amid the clouds, to whom has been given glory and power forever and ever. To walk among the clouds is characteristic only of God, and the liturgy is clear in pointing out that this kingship is something that Jesus has received not from any earthly power, but one that has been granted to him by his heavenly Father.
My kingdom does not belong to this world, we hear Jesus responding to Pontius Pilate in the Gospel. That Jesus is king is not based on any human conquest nor lineage by blood, but on divine love, a love that has been manifested to a supreme degree on the cross. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever.
Our Christian response, which is fruit of our prayer and after having received his Word, is to place ourselves authentically under the rule of such a mighty king. Throughout the history of grace, which is something that could be said of the two thousand years of the Church of God here on earth, thousands upon thousands of saints have placed themselves under the sweet yoke of this king. How do we live this feast fruitfully in our present situation as Christians?
My kingdom does not belong to this world, the Lord says; this kingdom does not recognize no other boundary than that which has been established by our heart. This is precisely the place where Christ would want to reign. Jesus Christ does not wish to rule on governments, in parliaments or in monarchies: he wishes to rule in each of our hearts. Acceptance of his kingship entails the acceptance of his word, of his law of Love. Submission to Christ means being serious in the constant battle against sin in our life. Conversion to Christ is the necessary and primary consequence of having accepted Christ as our Lord and King, he and none other. Conversion entails diving head on into the battle against everything that keeps Jesus from taking total possession of our lives, of our very being; it means that we have to be radical in our struggle to reject sin. In the end, the Lord knows his true followers: to those who have persevered in being faithful to him he would grant the prize reserved to victors; those who had not been true servants of his, an eternity of anguish and torment separated from him, in hell.
My kingdom does not belong to this world: this, nevertheless, does not mean that our submission to this great king has nothing to do with how we live our lives in society, in relation to the world around us. Enthroning Christ in our lives and in our hearts should not only serve to transform us from within, but also be agents of this transforming grace in society ourselves, To have Christ as king means committing ourselves to promoting the peace of Christ (which is the only true and lasting peace) in society. Such peace is not possible in a society where God is ignored, where his “rights” are denied and suppressed, when people are made to live as though he did not exist, and as a consequence, no true human and religious values are made to flourish.
|POPE PIUS XI|
The feast of Christ the king is one whose spiritual message has social consequences in the modern world. When Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) established it for the whole Church, he was addressing a world which had just suffered the devastating conflict of the First World War; it was a world that was trying to rebuild itself from the ruins. Pius—whose motto was Pax Christi in regnum Christi, the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ—believed that for a humane society to rise from the ashes of the war, it must be rebuilt upon the values that are deeply founded on the Gospel of Christ. These are values that are in favor of the dignity of the human person, because they hold in consideration the creator of man, God himself, from whom true justice and peace spring. From the start of his pontificate, the Pope made extended to the whole Church two great feasts that correspond to the divine mercy and the divine kingship of Christ: the feast and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the feast of Christ the King.
These were established as a response to the events that had just taken place in Europe, and a warning as well: against the horrors of war and crimes committed against humanity, the Pope urged devotion to the humanity of Jesus, honored in the devotion to his Sacred Heart; against the budding totalitarian ideologies of Nazism, communism and fascism, he reiterated that only the dominion of God in men’s hearts can save the human race, and not any ideology. Anything else would end in disaster and carnage. The subsequent outbreak of the Second World War—more terrible than the first—proved the wisdom of Pius XI.
We cannot accept Christ as king and be quiet about it with our neighbors and in society at large. The example of the Mexican martyrs of the 1920’s teach us that there is only one way to proclaim the kingship of Christ in the world: shouting it out with courage. In their cry “Viva Cristo rey!” we learn that we cannot keep the news of Christ’s kingship to ourselves, but it is something that we have to proclaim to the world for its own good, most especially in ensuring that the voice of God is heard in society, and in the halls of public debate.
When we live our Christian vocation faithfully in the silence of our ordinary life, we shout out this truth. When we give testimony to Christ by our constant decision to live in a way pleasing to God, a moral life, we shout this out. When we lend our voice with courage in defense of the truth about life from conception to natural death, about marriage between man and woman, about the family, we show that Christ—and not mere public opinion or consensus—is King.
Each one of us will have to come up with firm resolutions of how to live this kingship of Jesus Christ in our lives. The one thing that we have to keep in mind is that the acceptance of Christ as king has its inevitable consequence: our personal conversion from sin and rebirth in God’s grace, a real transformation. Furthermore, it means that we cannot stand by with arms crossed; we must realize that we have the commitment to spread the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ, to use that favorite phrase of Pius XI. This means that we have to work for peace and justice as well in our present society in everyway possible. this can only be done by basing ourselves upon the Truth, of which God is the first guarantor. AMEN!