Solemnity of Christ the King

This weekend brings to a close the liturgical year, and next weekend starts Advent, the beginning of the Church’s liturgical calendar. This is also the last weekend/Sunday in which we will use the current translation of the Mass. Next Saturday evening we will begin to use the new translation of the prayers at Mass. Today, being the end of the liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King: in the new translation, by the way, it will be called the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. (It has always had that name in Latin, as well as in other languages.)

Today’s Solemnity is relatively new on the calendar: Pope Pius XI established it in 1925. Pope Pius gave us this liturgical celebration as an antidote to secularism, which he already saw creeping into the lives of many in his day. He saw that people were beginning to think and live as if God did not exist. This feast was intended to remind people that Jesus Christ wants to reign over us as individuals, He wants to reign in our families, over society, over the world. As we shall see Christ is, in fact, Lord of everything, but He wants us to freely choose to allow Him to reign in our hearts in order to build up His Kingdom.

Although the feast of Christ the King is new, the idea that Jesus Christ reigns as King is not foreign to the liturgy. It is mentioned all of the time and in prayers that are ancient. Christ’s reign is brought up so often in the liturgy, that we can easily not even notice it. Many, many of our prayers at Mass end by invoking Our Lord and then adding the ancient conclusion: “Who lives and reigns . . . forever and ever.” Who lives, and reigns. Christ reigns at the right hand of the Father. He is Master and Lord of the universe.

Let’s look at the various ways that Jesus Christ is King of the universe. Jesus Christ is God; Saint Paul says that all things were created through Him, all things were created for Him. Together with the Father and the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ created everything that is. Without Him nothing was made that was made. He reigns, first and foremost, because He created us: He is our Creator, we are His creation. As Creator of the universe He holds supreme power over all things. In Him all things live and move and have their being. We are dependent upon God for our existence and everything that we have that is good comes to us from the hand of God; as a result we owe Him our thanks and praise.

Besides reigning by virtue of His Divine nature, Christ is also our Redeemer: He purchased us by His Precious Blood. The Eternal Son of God set aside the glory that He had from all eternity, emptied Himself and took the form of a slave, Saint Paul says. The One Whom the Angels adore, humbled Himself to be born of a Virgin in a cave because there was no room for Him in the inn: He came to His own and His own received Him not. He became a man, like us in all things except for sin, to fully reveal God to us and we, His creatures, put Him to death for it: He was Crucified to save us from our sins. He willingly laid down His life for you, and for me. He died so that we might have eternal life. By pouring out His Precious Blood on the Cross, He purchased us for God. Jesus Christ has purchased you back from the devil and the price that He paid for you was His own life. The life that you live is not your own: you have been purchased by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us and gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist; He wants something in return: our heart. God desires that we love Him, that we allow His will to reign in our hearts. Jesus Christ is King of the universe by divine right, be He wants your permission to reign in your heart and in your life.

Faith is an individual matter, it is my choice, it is up to me to faithfully follow Christ, or not; but we must also remember that faith is not merely a private matter. There are many in our society today that would hold that it is ok to worship in whatever way that I want so long as I don’t bring my faith into the public sphere. That reduces faith to something which is pointless. We are not just to be Christians in Church on Sunday and then park our religion at the door until next week. If I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, if I know that He has purchased me with His Blood, it has to make a difference in the way that I live my life everyday. Being a Christian means more than simply showing up at Mass on Sunday: being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ all the time, always everywhere. All time belongs to Christ. Following Jesus Christ means living, thinking, making choices in accord with what Jesus Christ has revealed to us about God. If we believe that our faith is true, it has to have an effect on us. We don’t have to stand on soapbox on the street, but we do have the right and the duty to defend our faith, and to share our faith with others. Faith is a gift, and it is a gift that has been given to us, for ourselves but also for others. If Christ is to really reign in my heart, He has to reign in every part of my heart: He wants all of your heart. We are to love God with all of our heart, with all of mind, with all of our strength. That is the greatest commandment, and that commandment cannot be lived out in one hour a week, one day a week.

Let us renew our commitment to Christ that we will strive to follow Him ever more faithfully: Loving Lord Jesus, Redeemer of the entire human race, and King of the universe, look down upon us humbly present before You. We are Yours and we desire to belong ever more completely to You. We consecrate ourselves to Your Most Sacred Heart this day. Give us the grace to faithfully follow You, that we may be with You forever in Your Kingdom, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit: One God forever and ever. Amen