The Solemnity Christ The King – 16
II Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43
Polycarp, the fifth century bishop of Smyrna, was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. He was told if he cursed Christ, he would be released. He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King Jesus Christ Who saved me?”
The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.”
It was Pope Pius XI who brought the Feast of Christ the King into the liturgy in 1925 in order to bring Christ, his rule and Christian values back into lives of Christians, into society and into politics.
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 honor Christ as the King of the Universe by enthroning Him in our hearts and allowing Him to take control of our lives.
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 love, mercy and compassion as Jesus did. Since the New Testament identifies Christ the King as the Son of David, the first reading recalls the story of David’s anointing as King of Israel.
In the second reading, St. Paul asserts that, as the Image of the invisible God, Christ the King is superior to the prominent groups of angels like “Thrones, Dominations, Principalities or Powers.”
Describing the crucifixion scene, today’s Gospel teaches that Christ became the King of our hearts and lives by His suffering, death and Resurrection.
The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the long-awaited king of the Jews. In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk.1:32-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and his Kingdom will never end.”
The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt.2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.” During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk.19:38)
“Blessed is the King, who comes in the name of the Lord.” When Pilate asked the question: (Jn.18:33) “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus, in the course of their conversation, made his assertion, “You say that I am a King.
For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth. Everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to My Voice” (Jn.18:37). That Truth, as we know, is that He is God and Sovereign King of all creation.
Today’s Gospel tells us that the board hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” (Lk.23:36; Mt.27:37; Mk.15:26; Jn.19:19-20), and that, to the repentant thief on the cross who made the request:
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” Jesus promised Paradise with Him that very day. (Lk.19:39-43). Before His Ascension into Heaven, the Risen Jesus declared: (Mt.28:18) “I have been given all authority in Heaven and on earth.”
Jesus is a unique King with a unique Kingdom. Jesus Christ still lives as King, in thousands of human hearts all over the world. The cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount is his rule of law. His citizens need obey only one law: “Love others as I have loved you” (Jn.15:12).
His love is selfless, sacrificial, kind, compassionate, forgiving and unconditional. That is why the preface in today’s Mass describes Jesus’ Kingdom as “a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
He is a King with a saving and liberating mission: to free mankind from all types of bondage so that we may live peacefully and happily on earth and inherit Eternal Life in Heaven. His rule consists in seeking the lost, offering salvation to those who call out to him and making friends of enemies.
The Kingdom of God is the central teaching of Jesus throughout the Gospels. The word Kingdom appears more than any other word throughout the four Gospels. Jesus begins His public ministry by preaching the Kingdom.
“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk.1:14). In Christ’s Kingdom, “we are all a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1Pt.2:9). According to the teachings of the New Testament, the “Kingdom of God” is a three-dimensional reality.
The three-dimensional realities are the life of grace within every individual who does the will of God, the Church here on earth, and Eternal Life in Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the Church is the Kingdom of Christ already present in mystery.
It is the mission of the Church to proclaim and establish the Kingdom of Christ in human souls. This mission takes place between the first coming and the second coming of Christ.
The Church helps us to establish Christ’s Kingdom in our hearts, thus allowing us to participate in God’s inner life. We are elevated and transformed through sanctifying grace. This supernatural life of grace comes to fulfillment in the eternal life of Heaven.
We need to surrender our lives to Christ’s rule. 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 live in His Holy Presence, doing His will by sharing His forgiving love with others around us.
We need to be constantly aware of His Presence in the Bible, in the Sacraments and in the worshipping community. We need to fight against the enemies of Christ’s Kingdom: Terrorism has affected the entire world, including Christ’s kingdom on earth.
These terrorists are people who slaughter the unborn; engage in a frontal attack on the modern family through provocative television shows, movies, music and pornography; eradicate any recognition of God from public display and public schools.
We need to use what authority we have been given to pass on Jesus’ message. This feast is an invitation to all those who have power or authority in the government, public offices, educational institutions and in the family to use it for Jesus.
Are we using our God-given authority so as to serve others with love and compassion as Jesus did? Are we using it to build a more just society rather than to boost our own egos? Are parents using their God-given authority to train their children in Christian ideals and committed Christian living?
The Solemnity of Christ the King is not just the conclusion of the Church year. It is also a summary of our lives as Christians. On this 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.
Let us conclude the Church year by asking the Lord to help us serve the King of Kings as He presents Himself in those reaching out to us. “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His Blood and made us a Kingdom, priests for His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen”