Feast of Christ the King
The solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time (the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar), ushering in the first Sunday of Advent. The celebration of Christ’s dominion was moved in 1970 by Pope Paul VI from its original date. The feast was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas (“In the First”) in response to societal ills related to the struggles of the times and growing hostility against the Church. He proclaimed, “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ), asserting that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Savior, and King and allow him to rule our lives. In short, we are reminded of the importance of ordering our priorities, making Christ the center of our lives.
As Pope Pius XI reflected, “Governments come and go, Christ reigns as king forever.”
Qua primas continues to ring true today. The Holy Father spoke directly to the problem of what he referred to as “anti-clericalism.” He was speaking to the attitude of those who wanted to eliminate Christian influence from political life. How powerful and prophetic Pope Pius XI’s lessons were as we saw in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, where it was suggested that “belief in Catholic teaching renders a person unfit for a judicial appointment.”
With all the civil unrest, racial tension, and a pandemic, we do well to turn to Our Lord, who reigns over every people and nation:
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Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, the Incarnate Lord.
His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angel and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures. – Quas primas, 13
Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is both the divine Lord and the man who suffered and died on the Cross. In him, one person of the Trinity unites himself to human nature through the Incarnation and reigns over all creation as the Incarnate Son of God.
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Jesus shares a law of charity to show the way to communion with God.
Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love. – Quas primas, 14
By being close to sisters and brothers who are suffering, we draw closer to Jesus. We Catholics, as individuals and as parishes, can look for opportunities to minister to the needs of people who are hurting and, by doing so, we will be acknowledging the kingship of Christ.
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The Church acknowledges the reign of Christ, not only privately, but publicly.
Thus by sermons preached at meetings and in churches, by public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed and by solemn processions, men unite in paying homage to Christ, whom God has given them for their King. – Quas primas, 26
Today, religious freedom for many people means that we can believe whatever we want, but when we enter the public square or the marketplace, we must conform to secularist orthodoxy. For Christians, when our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives. We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we declare to the world and remind ourselves that Jesus is the Lord, not only of the Church, but of the universe.
Quas primas © 1925, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
I came upon a resource recently which I really like called LectioTube. I found it while looking for information or references for Fr. Anthony Kadavil, better known simply as Fr. Tony, who is one of several contributors to the Blog. LectioTube is a collection of resources and is worth looking at. I have now bookmarked this site for future reference.
One of the features of Fr. Tony’s “Eight-minute homily in one page” is Life Messages related to the Readings of the Day. For Christ the King, here are his Life Messages:
- We need to recognize and appreciate Christ’s presence within us and surrender our lives to Christ’s rule: Since Christ, our King, lives in our hearts with the Holy Spirit and His Heavenly Father and fills our souls with His Grace, we need to learn to surrender our lives to Him, live in His Holy Presence, and do God’s will by sharing His forgiving love with others around us. Award of His presence in the Bible, in the Sacraments, and in the worshipping community, we need to listen and talk to Him.
- We need to learn to be servers: Since Christ was a Servant-king we are invited to be His loyal citizens by rendering humble service to others and by sharing Christ’s mercy and forgiveness with others.
- We need to use our authority to support the rule of Jesus: This feast is an invitation to all those who have power or authority in the public or the private realms to use it for Jesus by bearing witness to Him in the way we live. Parents are expected to use their God-given authority to train their children in Christian ideals and in the ways of committed Christian living.
- We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love: Jesus, who came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us His new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13:34), and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus already loves us – unconditionally, sacrificially, and with agape love.
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During these long months of COVID-19, we have been denied praise and worship through song. One of the favorite songs of the community is O Come to the Altar.
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- Quas primas © 1925, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City State. Used with permission. All rights reserved.