The prophets of Israel promised a Messiah, and they specified details that would mark his arrival. All these play out in the Nativity story, as all the Gospel writers attest. And we all know Jesus’ biography — the Christ, who lived briefly among men. We all know how His Kingship on Earth was marked by teaching, healing, service and, ultimately, Sacrifice. That Sacrifice has – and continues – to change the past, present and future for His people.
Our challenge: To let The King reign.
King in Creation
Jesus’ Kingship began before the creation of the world, and before the creation of God’s people.
[T]he Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5)
This King authored life, and He leads the living by His Light. That continues every day, in each new life conceived, and through the loving acts that raise humanity to divine love.
King in this World
Jesus’ Kingship proved confusing to people during His earthly life, and that confusion has persisted. On Palm Sunday, the Jews welcomed Jesus as their King. There was this brief moment when we could glimpse the possible. What if people really “got it” about the character of Christ’s Kingship that time, when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, with palms paving his path? It’s a silly question, ultimately, because sin required a sacrifice. Jesus was born to die, so that the distance our sins create between us and God can be removed. The King’s Sacrifice enables us to join His Kingdom.
The problems of the secular remain ever-present. The crowd in Jerusalem rejected Jesus because he would not be a political savior. The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, to show a world moving toward World War II and confused by Nazism and Communism that Christ is the Ruler of all Creation, both in the beginning and ongoing. This Feast reminds the faithful to establish the reign of Christ – thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven – in our families, communities, political societies and international organizations.
Where to Find Christ the King Today
Pope Benedict XIV, on the Feasts of Peter and Paul in June 2010, reaffirmed the dangers of secularization. He called for a new era of evangelization, not just to the ends of the Earth, but cycling back to previously saved people, who have lost His message over the years. Our Holy Father reminds us that missionary work is needed to re-enlighten the once enlightened – to bring Light back into the darkness of our era. He also reminds us that The Kingdom precedes and supersedes social and political life. Most important of all, Pope Benedict reminded us how to find Christ’s Kingdom:
The way to “enter” into God’s Kingdom “does not permit shortcuts”; rather, “every person must freely welcome the truth of the love of God. He is Love and Truth and both love and truth never impose themselves: they knock at the door of the heart and mind and, wherever they may enter, they bring peace and joy. This is God’s way of reigning; this is his project of salvation, a ‘mystery’ in the biblical sense of the word, which is a plan that is revealed little by little throughout history.” Pope Benedict XVI
Christ the King must reign over our hearts, if He is to reign over our families, our communities and our political entities.
The King will (also) Come Again
That is what Advent is all about, the Second Coming of Christ. He will come again, like a thief in the night: For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
The fact that this great Feast of Christ the King comes before the season of Advent helps remind us that to prepare for the coming of the Lord, we must first establish Christ as the King of our lives.
If Christ is truly the King of our hearts, we will put on His breastplate (Ephesians 6:14), carry His banner, win over His enemies, shore up His people, and pay Him homage with our whole lives – the Prince of Peace.
Yes, that imagery is rather feudal. How about the more familial images: We will honor Him as our Father. He will walk beside us as our Brother. We will cleave to Him as our Friend. We will listen to Him as Our Counselor. We will obey Him as our Lord and God.
You gave the peoples of the world
as the inheritance of your only Son;
you crowned him as King of Zion, your holy city,
and gave him your Church to be his Bride.
As he proclaims the law of your eternal kingdom,
may we serve him faithfully,
and so share his royal power forever. (from The Divine Office)