Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (C)
Fr. Alan Gilmore, OCSO
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today is the 34th Sunday in Ordinary time. It is also the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. The end of the year points toward the end of time when ALL creation will be culminated in Christ, when his kingdom comes, when God’s will is done.
With the following words, in 1925, Pope Pius XI introduced the beautiful “Solemnity of Christ the King “ to the Catholic world.: (Quote):
“People are taught the truths of the faith and brought to appreciate them more effectively by the annual celebration of the sacred mysteries – than by official pronouncements of the Church….pronouncements speak once; feasts (Solemnities) speak every year. The Church’s teaching impresses the mind primarily, while her feasts influence both mind and heart, affecting the whole of the person.”
The Pope did this also to guard against the extremes of laicism of the time and the clericalism of previous generations. With these words and for this reason he established this great Solemnity, now know as -The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
As today’s celebration points out – Christ is Master, Shepherd, King and Lord of all. Our selfishness, our lack of vision, fails entirely to destroy or distort the truth of the Christ. He remains the beginning and end of existence. He is our universal King! Paul’s words to the Colossians today – sums up beautifully the “Christic” nature of the Son of God, the Son of David, ‘explaining’ even gravity’ – ( as – “In him all things hold together”.)
This celebration provides us with what is perhaps the most multi-faceted theme in all of salvation history: “Kingship”& “Messiah”. This is witnessed to by the richness of the texts for this Liturgy. The tendency of most of us would be to treat the coming of Christ’s Kingship in a highly dramatic way. But that is not God’s way! Instead, the King of Kings comes to us very simply, even on the foal of an ass. Some throne he had!: a cross. Some crown: of thorns; Some subjects: all sinners. Today he comes to us again, Jesus our Lord and God, our King; He is delivered into our hands. We may receive him with our open hands…but most of all – and this is what he wants from us above all else – he wants us to open our heart to him! He wants to be the King and Center of our heart! He wants to enter the deepest depths of our heart. He is the only one who can enter that ‘holy of holies’ as it were, where he makes us mutually present with him and to one another!
Listen to how Jesus describes his coming in the Gospels: “I will come to you. In that day you will know that I am in my Father – and you in me – and I in you.” “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” “Because I live, you will live also.” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” All throughout, this is a personal relationship! He comes to give us his Spirit – that we may be able to love one another- as he has loved us. That is the Kingdom we are called to, as the members of his Body, the Church. This is the Kingdom we are called to participate in now; This is ‘not yet’ heaven, but it is the beginning!
The response we are making to that Kingdom? We are called to be ready and willing to confess him to follow him, to do what he commands – just as he responded to his Father in Gethsemani. “Not my will, but thine be done”. “If you know these things, blessed shall you be – if you do them.” This is what our Pope Francis keeps talking about!
To love the King – is to love his kingdom. – that is – all our Brothers and Sisters – all for whom he has made the great confession, laying down his life for all of us. It is only in doing this, in demonstrating this love, that we show ourselves to be sons and daughters, members of the Kingdom of Christ.
Only the Lord, the King of our Heart, can teach us and help us to love as he loves. Through his Spirit, his Word, and His Eucharist, he empowers us, gives us the initiative and courage to love one another effectively and selflessly. To do this constantly – involves a death, a death to self! Shortly before his own death Jesus reminded us of this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone…..he who loves his life, loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me.” The Lord comes to us personally and corporately. He gives us full power, to love, as pleni-potentiaries”, as it were! He has plans and gifts for each one of us! “Go into the whole world!”
On this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, let’s pray – that our hearts may be touched, and the quality of our allegiance to Christ our King be purified and strengthened!; that we may always prefer absolutely nothing to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – in whom everything continues in being. May our lives reflect the gratitude we owe Him, without whom we, no thing, no Universe could exist. May we confess and glorify his name now and for all eternity Come Lord Jesus! (2 Sam. 5:1-3, Col. l: 12-20, Lk. 23: 35-43)