Christ the King
Some thoughts on the readings at the Eucharist for the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King: Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5; Revelation 1:5-8; and St John 18:33-37
✠ In the readings at Mass today, we hear one of best known phrases of the Bible. Our Lord Jesus Christ affirms that He is a king, but He also affirms that His kingdom does not “belong to this world”. This was important for Him to mention, because Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who was interrogating, was worried that Our Lord was trying to organise some king of political rebellion against the Roman Empire. Our Lord explains that he was not.
But, if Our Lord Jesus Christ is not a political king, what kind of king is He? If His kingdom is “not of this world”, what king of kingdom is it?
Pope Benedict XVI explained the answers to these questions in 2006:
[Jesus] did not come to rule over peoples and territories… but to set people free from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God.Pope Benedict XVI. Angelus, 26 November 2006 https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20061126.html [accessed 2021-11-20]
Ever since original sin, our fallen world has been enslaved to selfishness and separated from God. Tempted by the Devil, our first parents believed the lie that they could achieve the fulfilment, meaning, and happiness they longed for apart from God. That lie led them to disobey God’s commands, to act as if they themselves were gods. That self-centred rebellion, instead of liberating the human race, poisoned it with suffering, death, and evil. By throwing off God’s rule, we made ourselves into followers of the very first rebel against God: the Devil.
Our Lord Jesus Christ came to save us, by bringing the Light of Truth back into our darkened, confused world. What is that truth, the truth that will set us free from sin? That God is love.
By accepting God’s love in our life, we accept the antidote to the poison and are reinstated as citizens of the Kingdom fo God, where Christ is the everlasting King.
As Pope Benedict said,
The way to reach this goal is long and admits of no short cuts: indeed, every person must freely accept the truth of God’s love. He is Love and Truth, and neither Love nor Truth are ever imposed: they come knocking at the door of the heart and the mind and where they can enter they bring peace and joy. This is how God reigns; this is his project of salvation, a “mystery” in the biblical sense of the word: a plan that is gradually revealed in history.Angelus, 26 November 2006
Three steps to accepting the Truth
Accepting Christ’s kingdom is an interior freedom, a peace and strength of soul that only His grace can give us. If up to today, we have not experienced it as deeply as we should like, maybe that is because we have not fully accepted the truth that God is love. Fully accepting that truth, which Pontius Pilate refused to do, involves at least three things.
First, it means accepting it freshly every single day. Each day we remain free to decide how we will live. Therefore, each day we have to reaffirm our citizenship in God’s Kingdom, or else we will slowly drift away from Him.
Secondly, accepting the truth that God is Love means admitting that we need God. Trying to achieve perfect happiness by our own efforts, without God, will shut ourselves off from God’s love. The most direct way to admit that we need God, to allow His Love to be part of our lives, is to come regularly to the sacrament of reconciliation. There is simply no better way to acknowledge His Kingship over our lives, to acknowledge that the law of His Kingdom is mercy.
Thirdly, accepting the truth that God is Love means striving in our daily lives to love as God loves. St Paul summarised all the laws of Christ’s Kingdom as one: love your neighbour as yourself (Romans 13:9). When we refuse to forgive, to serve, to treat others as we would have them treat us, we distance ourselves from the God Who is Love, refusing to accept His friendship.
Today, as we celebrate Christ the Universal King, let us thank Him for binging us the Truth that will set us free. And, let us ask humbly for the grace to accept that Truth—that God is Love— every single day of our lives.