With his arms outstretched on the cross Christ embraces peoples of nations into a single family of God
This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The following Sunday, already in the season of Advent, we begin year A. And as you know, every last Sunday of the liturgical year we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Christ is king not only of the universe out there; he should be let to be King of our lives. So, we could pray for the grace to be able to welcome him as master of our lives.
But this great feast of Christ the King, where does it come from? When did it begin? Why? What message does it bring across to us today?
- 2 Samuel 5:1-3
- Colossians 1: 12-20
- Luke 23: 35-43
Christ the King in its context
The feast of Christ the King began not long after the world war. It’s a time when some countries especially in Europe were in conflict between one another largely because of the hunger for power. One country wants to dominate others, with its leader inclined to prove himself as the most powerful above all others. Similarly, you have also the tendency of a people considering itself more superior than others.
Besides, such kind of behaviour was nourished by certain ideologies which seemed to say: man you are an adult enough to run your affairs. You have the power, you have the money, you have the weapons, you have the technology –you are ripe to be your own master. What’s the point of submitting yourself to a god? What’s a point of listening to what the church teaches? It’s time to have your independence from God and from the church.
It’s in such climate of self-conceit that Pope Pius XI declared the feast of Christ the King, in 1925. He aimed at warning Catholics and world leaders of the danger of distancing themselves from God. The Holy Father invited people to establish their lives and all they do on the values of the Gospel as the only sure foundation.
Christ the King, what relevance today?
But we can ask the question: has the mentality changed for better? Of course, we are living in a different context and yet the attitude of claiming moral independence, distancing oneself from God and all similar tendencies are actually on the increase. With the amazing strides in science and technology, through which human beings are achieving unimaginable things, the place for God keeps narrowing. Human beings are affirming their capacity to run the show on their own. They think they can do without God.
Given such state of affairs, I take the liberty to conclude that the message of Pius XI, through this feast of Christ the King, is still as relevant for us today as it was in those days. Hence, this feast is an occasion for us to re-examine ourselves: on what kind of foundation am I building my life, my marriage, my family, my work? Whatever personal response we can give to such question, nevertheless, it’s important to remember the words of the Lord: a foolish man builds his house on sand but when the rain and floods come, and the wind blows, the house falls tragically (cf. Mt 7:26).
Christ the King, but he is what kind?
He is a king who emptied himself, becoming human like us to the point of dying a shameful death on the cross. He is King who has come to save and not be served (MK 10:42-45). That is the kind of kingship we are celebrating. And we too, by baptism, we have put on Christ the King. We have become kings. That’s our new dignity in Christ. But Jesus, by his life, demonstrated how we should be kings, meaning, to be at the service of others.
He is King of the Universe
Christ is King not only of a certain section of people or of an area. He is King without borders as he has come to gather people of all nations, races, languages into one single family of God. “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Lk 13:29). In Christ we become a family. That’s why his church is catholic or universal, not only because it’s everywhere in the world but also that it embraces the entire humanity. No person is excluded. And when I accept Christ as King of the universe, there are important consequences in my relations with others. I become a brother, a sister to everyone. If I confess Christ as King of the universe yet I remain closed onto myself, that’s a contradiction. Unfortunately, contradictions are not rare in our lives.
King of the universe, king of all chambers
We can also add that confessing Christ as King of the universe it’s a way of saying that he is king of my entire life, and not simply a portion of it. He is master of my life not only when I’m at mass –he’s king wherever I’m and in whatever I’m doing; that in, in my public life as in my private life. It’s belongs to each individual person to check; aren’t there chambers of my life that are not yet illuminated by the light of the Gospel? Are there not places in my life marked “private area” which remain inaccessible to Jesus?
Christ’s Kingdom, present and future
We just can’t talk about Christ as King without talking about his Kingdom as well. His Kingdom is not something we just await at the end of the world; it’s already there though yet to be fulfilled. It’s present because Jesus has sown the grains of the Kingdom which are germinating, growing and even bearing fruit through the lives of those who have welcomed his message. That’s why we pray, your Kingdom come. It’s not that we just want to open our hands and have it descend on us, rather, we commit ourselves to making and transforming our neighbourhood into signs of the Kingdom, made visible through acts of charity and of humanity.
Do you have any space for him?
For Christ to be King of my life I need to give him space. That’s why he says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with me” (Rv 3:20).
Am I ready today to open the door of my life so that Christ can come in be master of my life?
(Why don’t you associate your friends with Christ’s Kingdom, by sharing with them this word?)