The Solemnity of Christ the King is not just the conclusion of the Church’s year, it is also a summary of our lives as Christians. The Feast is intended to proclaim in a resounding and effective way, Christ’s royalty over all nations.
Today’s Scripture Readings revolve around the Last Judgment scene of Jesus Christ coming in glory and power. It was Pope Pius XI who brought the Feast of Christ the King into the liturgy in 1925 to bring Christ as Ruler, and Christian values, back into the lives of Christians; into society, and into politics and against the deadly influence of Secularism.
The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King. Although emperors and kings now exist mostly in history books, we still honour Christ as the King of the Universe by enthroning Jesus in our hearts, and surrendering our lives to God. This Feast challenges us to see Christ the King in everyone, especially those whom our society considers the least important, and to treat each person with the same love, mercy, and compassion Jesus showed.
The first Reading, taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, introduces God as the Good Shepherd reminding us of Christ’s claim to be the Good-Shepherd-King, leading, feeding and protecting his sheep.
The Lord through Prophet Ezekiel reassures us of his continuous care for us: “I am going to look after my flock myself… I shall be a true shepherd to them…” One remarkable thing about this Reading is that for nine times, the personal pronoun “I” was employed. First, this is to convey God’s personal interest in his flock. Second, this was to prove his promises already fulfilled in Jesus Christ in our time.
In the second Reading, St. Paul presents Christ as the all-powerful Ruler-King who raises the dead and to whom every form of power and authority must eventually give way.
In this Reading, Paul reminds us of Christ’s kingship and reign. He will continue to maintain his reign until he conquers death, our last enemy. Christ accomplished a task that no other could. That is, the defeat of sin and Satan through his own death. It was a hundred percent total knockout.
He did it: “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands…nailing it to the cross.” He did it for our sake and for the sake of his kingdom. So, we must abide with him who shed his blood for us. We owe him homage every day of our life because he is the King of Kings.
Today’s Gospel describes Christ the King coming in Heavenly glory to judge us, based on how we have shared our love and blessings with others through genuine acts of charity in our lives. Jesus is present to us now, not only as our Good Shepherd leading, feeding and healing his sheep, but also as dwelling in those for whom we care.
In the parable of the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgment, every person to whom we give of ourselves, “whether hungry, thirsty or a stranger, naked, sick or in prison,” is revealed to us as having been the Risen Jesus. Our reward or punishment depends on how we have recognized and treated this Risen Jesus in the needy.
Today’s Gospel also reminds us of the reign of Christ. His reign is that of justice. “He will judge each according to his deeds and his scepter shall be peace and justice” (Is 2, 4).
Where is Christ supposed to reign? Of course, first, in our hearts! So, it suffices to note that, today’s celebration would be meaningful, only if we personally permit Christ to reign in our lives. If he reigns in every heart, then he reigns in our world. If he reigns there already, then rejoice and celebrate. If not, then let us ask him today, to come in and reign.
In conclusion, as we celebrate Christ the King of the Universe today, let us permit him to be truly in control of the kingdom of our heart because as the “Bonus pastor,” if we make him the King of our lives, we shall lack nothing and, surely, his goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life. And of course, we shall dwell peacefully in his palace.
Upon this his great Feast, let us resolve to give Christ the central place in our lives and to obey his commandment of love by sharing our blessings with all his needy children.
The Church advises us that we need to recognize and appreciate Christ’s presence within us and surrender our lives to him: 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.
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, and 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.
Fr Jude CSSp