Solemnity of Christ, the King
Solemnity of Christ, the King
Ezek 34: 11-12, 15-17 1Cor 15: 20-26, 28 Mt 25: 31-46
Recognizing Jesus to be our King is to allow him to rule all our faculties and life.
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, commonly referred to as the Feast of Christ the King, is a relatively recent addition to the liturgical calendar. (Some people, because of its overtly masculine overtone, prefer to call it as ‘the feast of the Reign of Christ.’). It was the Pope Pius XI who instituted this feast in his encyclical Quas Primas (meaning ‘In the first’) of 1925 in response to growing secularism. While the world was increasingly telling Christians that they must compartmentalize their religion and give their highest allegiance to the government, Pope Pius XI wanted to communicate to the world and the states that the Christians have got personal freedom to follow Christ and the states have no power to intervene with that. It does not mean that the Christians would rebel against the governments and states. Rather his point was “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”
This feast of Christ the King invites us to recognize the fact that we all belong to Christ and we should allow Him to rule our very being. In the second reading, St. Paul writes, “he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” It was St. Cyril of Alexandria who said, “Christ has dominion over all creatures, …by essence and by nature. His kingship is founded upon the hypostatic union (with the Father).” We all know that Jesus himself claimed, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Mt. 28:18)
The following words of the Pope Pius XI point out very beautifully how we need to subjugate ourselves to the reign of Christ: “If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”
When it is said that Jesus is the king of the world, then it goes without saying that he has got power over the world and people therein. Today’s readings point out that as the king of the world, he, along with the Father through his hypostatic union with Him, will do two things: First, He will gather people. Secondly, He will judge the world. Let us try to spend sometimes on these two points.
(a). God will gather the nations:
“As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries” are the words of God through Ezekiel. In the gospel, we read, “All the nations will be gathered before him.”
This point of ‘gathering’ has got a deeper implication. At the end of the world, all man-made divisions will be destroyed. As human beings we have created a lot of divisions, on the basis of language, caste, race, knowledge, power etc.. All these things have no value in front of God. It is said that our life is like a chess game. When the game (=life) is on, some wear the garment of a king, some others that of a queen, and still others that of the soldiers etc. But at the end of the game, all are packed up without any distinction. That is what that is going to be at the end.
So the point here is that focusing on the peripheral aspects of life is useless in front of God. A constant transcending of externalities is very important. As the subjects of His kingdom, we are called to constantly go beyond all types of man-made divisions and focus on the fact that we are all one and equal in front of God.
(b). God will judge the nations:
Invariably, all the readings of today talk about the final judgement. In the first reading, we see God speaking through Ezekiel, “I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats.” In the second reading, St. Paul says, “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power.” It is very clear that the gospel in clear terms talk about the final judgement.
It is said that there are two types of justice: Punitive justice and Retributive justice. Punitive justice is that is intended to punish a person for one’s misdeeds. Retributive justice is intended to help a person amend one’s ways. God’s justice is more retributive than punitive. Though it looks like that God’s justice is more punitive, in reality it is always retributive. In the second reading, St. Paul says that before the final end, all things have to be subjugated to Jesus. We all know that Jesus subjugates the nations and persons, not by force, but by love, coupled with justice.
Many of us might have heard of a huge statue of Christ, the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is about 30 meters tall. But many people do not know that there is another bigger statue of Christ. It is in Poland. It is the statue of Christ, the King and it is 33 meters tall (one meter for each year of Jesus’ earthly life). Well! The statue symbolically informs us that we have to allow Jesus to play a much bigger role in our lives.
O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge Thee as Universal King. For Thee all creatures have been made. Do Thou exercise over me all the rights that Thou hast. Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer Thee all my actions to obtain that all hearts may recognize Thy Sacred Royalty, and that thus the reign of Thy Peace may be established throughout the entire world. Amen.