Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925. There was an increasing denial of Christ as king which the Pope connected to the rise of non-Christian dictatorships in Europe. He saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders who often attempted to assert authority over the Church. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Pius XI hoped the institution of the feast would have the following effects:
- That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom and immunity from the state
- That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ
- That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies
Father, on this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we pray for the strength and the courage to let Jesus reign as King in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies. We pray for the leaders of our nation, that they will lead this country back to being one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.
Did Jesus claim to be a King?
The inscription above the head of Jesus on the cross called Him King of the Jews, but did Jesus ever claim to be a king?
When Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews, Jesus replied, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” (Jn 18: 36) Yes, Jesus did acknowledge that He is a King, but not a worldly king.
So what picture do we get of Jesus as king? Was He to be served like Pilate? No way! “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Just how devoted is this servant-king? “…to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10: 42-45)
The other strong image Jesus paints of Himself as King is that of “the good Shepherd.” In contrast to the thief who comes after the sheep to “slaughter and destroy,” Jesus “came that they might have life and have it to the full.” (Jn 10: 10) And, “…for these sheep I will give my life.” (Jn 10: 15)
Jesus is the King and Lord of our lives. The good news is that when, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Ps 23: 1)
A King Reigns
The dictionary defines reign as ‘royal rule or authority’ and as ‘dominating power.’ Jesus died at the hands of sinful men. That does not look much like Jesus had ‘authority’, or ‘dominating power.’
Yes, Jesus died on the cross, and on the third day He rose from the dead! Jesus’ resurrection established His authority, His dominating power over death!! His reign does not belong to this world, it is eternal.
The good news is that we can share in Jesus’ resurrection. “So in Christ all will come to life again, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits, and then at His coming, all those who belong to Him.” (1 Cor 15: 22-23)
Jesus, give me the grace to let You truly reign in my life so that I may spend eternity with You when you come again.
A King Judges
A king is the supreme judge in the kingdom. His word is final.
Matthew tells us in today’s Gospel that Jesus will “come in His glory”, and “He will sit upon His royal throne.” He then “separates sheep from goats.” The sheep will “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” The goats will be “condemned into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!” (Mt 25: 31, 32, 34, 41)
What distinguished the sheep from the goats? Their works! Jesus tells those judged worthy of heaven that they welcomed and fed and clothed the least of the brothers; they visited the imprisoned and the sick. He tells those going to hell that “as often as you neglected to do it to one of the least ones, you neglected to do it to Me.” (Mt 25: 45)
Jesus, King of heaven and earth, thank you for teaching us how we will be judged. May we serve as sheep in Your flock in this world and be judged worthy to live with You in eternity!