Christ the King
Feast of Christ the King, November 25, 2018
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, and so we end another church year. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, and so we begin a new church year. Christ the King. I would bet Jesus would not have liked this feast; he never acted like a King. He never called himself a King, even when questioned by Pilate in the gospel today. He never treated others like subjects.
I would bet Jesus would not have liked this feast; I would bet he would prefer the image of the Good Shepherd over the image of a King.
Why then do we celebrate it? It may help us to appreciate what it’s all about if we look at the feast’s origins. It was created rather recently by Pope Pius XI on Dec. 11, 1925 when he issued the Encyclical “Quas Primas”. It began to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October just before All Saints day, but Vatican Council II moved it to the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Why did Pope Pius XI create it? Because the Church and the world needed an image of “Hope” at that point. On its first celebration, Benito Mussolini had been head of Italy for three years; a rabble-rouser named Adolf Hitler had been out of jail for a year and his Nazi party was growing in popularity. Furthermore secularism, nationalism, and atheism were rearing their ugly heads. In such a time Pius XI asserted that with all of those new dictators and false values, Christ is King of the Universe. In spite of all that was happening in the world, Christ the King is still in charge. In that encyclical the Pope writes: “Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but by his essence and by nature.”
The feast then, was basically a language thing, a symbol, a metaphor, designed to be a statement of life’s fundamental question for broken times: who or what exercises dominion over you? Who or what rules our lives and how? If we pick up on that theme, then the feast of Christ the King makes sense for us today with its questions of dominion. Who or what rules our lives? Who or what dominates our culture?
Today this feast still has the same meaning as when Pius XI instituted it. It is meant as a challenge. Are we in need of HOPE today? Are there things in our lives that overwhelm us and terrify us? The feast of Christ the King reminds us that God is in charge, but remember he did give us “free will”. And with free will we are free to make our own decisions; good or bad, and even God cannot stop us. We reflect on our decisions. Are we truly happy with the way our lives are going?
Life is all about relationships, relationships with God and with others. Nothing else can satisfy the craving of the human heart. Nothing else can make us happy. That was the two great commandments: Love God and love others. Nothing else is important. Jesus also said that if anyone wishes to rank first, he must be the servant of all. He also said that he came not to be served but to serve.
Caring for God and caring for others. Nothing else is important. Do we take time for God and others, our family, our children, our friends? Do we have our priorities straight? Or do we work, work, work, run around from this to that and have no time for what is really important. Are we satisfied with the way we are living. If not, then exercise your free will and make some changes.
In conclusion, the bottom line is this: if there is to be a future we must have hope. If there is to be a future, there must
be a deep sense that things will only get better, but only if we submit to the teaching, the mission, and the life of Christ the King. Amen.
Fr. Terry Hazel
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
Jesus answered [Pilate], “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world.”