Tag Archives: Christ the King

Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Christ washing Peter's feetThe 34th Sunday through the Church Year is known in the Ordinary Form of the Mass as the Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (today); the communities who use the Extraordinary Form of the Mass celebrated this feast on the last Sunday of October.

Pope Pius XI, in 1925, instituted this feast as a response to the rise of modern totalitarian states and growing secularism. We feel the effects of the ideology today.  In the Pope’s mind, Christians were to keep their eyes focused on the goal of creation – the fullness of the Kingdom of God in a complete way through Jesus Christ. Consider what Saint Paul wrote to the Colossians: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.”

“The Son of Man ‘came not to be served but to serve’…that King whom to serve is to reign” Thus, the “‘state of royal freedom’ proper to Christ’s disciples: to serve means to reign!”

In Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week, Pope Benedict wrote:

“Jesus performs for his disciples the service of a slave, he ’emptied himself’ (Phil 2:7).

“What the letter to the Phillipians says in it great Chrisotological hymn –namely, that unlike Adam who had tried to grasp divinity for himself, Christ moves in the opposite direction, coming down from his divinity into humanity, taking the form of a servant and becoming obedient even to death on a cross (cf. 2:7-8) — all that is rendered in a single gesture. Jesus represents THE WHOLE OF HIS SAVING MINISTRY IN ONE SYMBOLIC ACT. He divests himself of his divine splendor; he, as it were, kneels down before us; he washes and dries our soiled feet…” (p,56-7)

The image for today’s feast is Jesus washing the feet of Peter which demonstrates in a most profound way Jesus’ kenotic essence (kenosis means Jesus taking on human nature in a total way without sin and decay; you can think of the Lord’s Infancy narratives) thus representing his kingship in a new way rather with a crown (as is ofttimes the representation). Jesus could have easily come with earthly symbols of power and honor but according to his loving, merciful, kenotic reality he chose the very opposite. 

And Saint Therese of Lisieux has an interesting way of pointing us: “Here on earth, where everything changes, only one thing doesn’t change: the King of Heaven’s way of acting as regards his friends. Ever since he raised up the standard of the cross, it is in its shadow that all must fight and gain the victory over ourselves.”

Christ the King

Christ the King (the Least of these)Today in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the Solemn Feast of “Christ the King” (the Extraordinary Form observed feast a month ago). I cam across this rather interesting and provocative image for the Christ the King with the question: “Christ the Least of These”? Of course, Matthew 25 is the judgement we all face.

Some reduce the person of Jesus and His kingship with being “impressed” in favor of being “transformed.” Actually, I prefer the theological datum of being transfigured. Christ the King is reason enough to be impressed but His work as king is a service to all with a preference for the humble because He Himself was made low in the Incarnation.

What comes to mind is the pious story of St Martin of Tours with his encounter with a beggar who was none other than Jesus. What comes to mind all the ways in which we Catholics live the Faith with a similar gaze Christ had for hungry, the thirsty, the lonely, the imprisoned, the sorrowful and ignorant.

Christ the King

Cristo ReyThe Liturgy prayed today in the Ordinary Form of the Mass is that of Solemnity of Christ the King. (The Extraordinary Form offered this Mass on the last Sunday of October.)  How is it that Catholics and Americans speak of Christ as King? The secular analogue of kingship in the USA does not exist for us.  Yet, we are often fascinated by the activities of the British royal family and we often raise some political families to the rank of minor royalty.

For the Christian, our King is the Incarnate and Eternal Word of God who lived in history, not in a palace but in a humble setting. Jesus lived and work among the people; He taught forgiveness, justice, love, a life centered on God, modeled the work of building up His Father’s kingdom, exhorted us to be Eucharist for the Life of the Church, and He suffered, died on a cross, resurrected from the dead and ascended to life in the Trinity. The sole mission of Jesus was to show us the face of God the Father, that is, to bring us into communio with the Trinity. How is this possible? The feast of Christ the King ought to draw our attention and concrete activity to the sacraments of initiation whereby we are given our dignity as children of God; where we share by adoption where the Trinity lives by nature. From the the sacramental life of the Church we live.

I am reminded of our Catholic theology of Baptism we are given “The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king” (CCC 1241).

And, “The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers” (CCC 1268).

How is the royal mission and holy priesthood exercised? By living in grace; by living the Gospel, by attending to our conversion; by living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. By personally being engaged in the building up of the  kingdom of God where we live: among family, friends, coworkers, in study, in prayer, and in work. This requires awareness. How awake are we in noticing the poor and those in genuine human need?

Yet, for this method to be effective, I think we have to ask ourselves, what and who is sovereign in our lives?  Sometimes, sin and dysfunction distract us.

Norbertine Father Andrew Ciferni of St Norbert Abbey and College preached this point today,

We celebrate this day with great solemnity. In some ways we mimic the rituals of the throne room. But the Scriptures will not let us rest too comfortably in solemn gesture and big sound – appropriate as they may be. The gospel we proclaim is that of the king whose throne is the tree of the Cross, a seat of forgiveness for the sinner. And what makes this king different from all others is that he enthrones and crowns all his subjects with him. We are a royal people. On the day of our baptism we are anointed as kings, priests and prophets. This means that sooner or later it will be revealed to us that we too reign from the Cross. That like King Jesus we can only bring reconciliation can only make peace in and through our own blood. As we read in the Letter to the Hebrews (9:22), “without blood there is no forgiveness.”

The end times are indeed near at hand…

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado Jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The end times are indeed near at hand. That is not to say that the “12/12/2012” Mayan prediction of the end of the world is true –it is not– or that the rapture approach is insightful. But if you really believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior then an acknowledgement of our living in the end times is the right way to live. The Scripture readings in these final weeks of the liturgical year, but especially this week, prepare the believer to face the fact of the final things, sometimes called the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. We can’t get away from these things. If we could, then there would be no need of a Messiah, of the Cross and Resurrection, the Eucharist, the sacraments, the Church, and a spiritual life; no need for salvation. If there is no probability of hell, then there is no need of salvation.

The subject of the Four Last Things was taken up by Pope John Paul II in the Wednesday Audiences in July and August of 1999. Look them up, they are worth a good review. By way of summary, let me draw attention to a few things the Pontiff said:
  • heaven “is not an abstraction nor a physical place amid the clouds, but a living and personal relationship with the Holy Trinity;
  • When this world has passed away, those who accepted God in their lives and were sincerely open to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God, which is the goal of human existence”;
  • the hell some will enjoy is not the result of God willing the death of the person but the result of the person not desiring the love and mercy God has offered, that he has freely given;
  • the Pope spoke of the danger of rigidly holding a literal interpretation of the Scriptural images of hell: for John Paul, and therefore us, “the inextinguishable fire” and “burning oven” in the biblical narrative points the hearer to “indicate the complete frustration and vacuity of a life without God”;
  • we know that hell exists; we don’t know the population of hell; Cf. Cardinal Avery Dulles’ famous First Things article, “The Population of Hell”; John Paul says that hell is not something that we can know but that real damnation “remains a possibility”;
  • On purgatory the Pope said, is the state of being “before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our soul must be corrected. This is exactly what takes place in purgatory”;
  • Purgatory is “the process of purification for those who die in the love of God but are not completely imbued with that love”; 
  • even though Christ holds His hand in friendship, that is, in love, the extension of our hand “does not exclude they duty to present ourselves pure and whole before God.”
  • Read the Catechism at paragraph 1861.
Perhaps tying all this together can be seen in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians where he says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you will appear with him in glory” (3:2-4) And in the collect for this week’s Mass: “Stir up the will of your faithful, we pray, O Lord, that, striving more eagerly to bring your divine work to fruitful completion, they may receive in greater measure the healing remedies your kindness bestows.”
What ought be my approach to the four last things today, and in the years to come? Well, if I truly believe that Jesus is real, then the nihilistic approach is not a winning one. If I believe what Jesus exhorted us to consider as genuine, “Do not be afraid” then fear (sinful activity) can’t rule my life. If I believe that God is always present, then I ought to receive the sacraments of Confession and frequently receive the medicine of Immortality –the Holy Eucharist– reminding myself that Jesus told us that he’d be with us to the end of the world. His presence is neither magic nor fiction, but a real presence that no other warm body can ever give. These are the things that our spiritual life needs to be fed with, these are the treasures given by the all-loving, all-powerful God.
One of the monks at New Skete Monastery (in New York) said the following at the Divine Liturgy:

So how can we honestly and proactively approach today’s feast, and this holiday season in a way that will get us past the public façade of wise-guy banter and beyond the disconnect between hard realities and sincere beliefs and honest ideals? How might we bravely allow our deeper humanity to shine forth in the midst of some extreme assaults on such things as tenderness, hope, and compassion?

Today’s readings, along with monastic wisdom and psychological insight suggest the following: Daily if not hourly slow down the frantic pace of our media interaction, verbosity, and endless tasks: daily if not hourly return to the temple of our own person and the holy and fertile ground of our interior life. Daily if not continually express appreciation for whatever someone does that makes my life richer today: Daily or at least once in a while do something simple but concrete and different, for the express purpose of nurturing the human spirit, within yourself, for someone else, and for the future.

In these days in the post Christ the King observance and before Advent, let’s pray for the grace to know ourselves more deeply so as to accept more fully “divine work” in our lives with the gift of discernment showing us the way to the Father.

Pope to the faithful: bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth

Conversion advances the Kingdom of God. There is no possibility of entering the Kingdom prepared and promised to us without turning away from sin and truly walking on the path given by the Lord. AND this Kingdom is totally other than what we known and expect. And because of our baptism our vocation is to build the Kingdom according to a plan that is not our own. At the Mass offered by the Pope on the
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, he did so with the six cardinals and their friends and family. The homily follows.

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Pantocrator, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Solemnity of
Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, is enriched
by our reception into the College of Cardinals of six new members whom,
following tradition, I have invited to celebrate the Eucharist with me this
morning. I greet each of them most cordially and I thank Cardinal James Michael
Harvey for the gracious words which he addressed to me in the name of all. I
greet the other Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as the distinguished
civil Authorities, Ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful,
especially those coming from the Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral care of the
new Cardinals.

In this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church invites
us to celebrate the Lord Jesus as King of the Universe. She calls us to look to
the future, or more properly into the depths, to the ultimate goal of history,
which will be the definitive and eternal kingdom of Christ. He was with the
Father in the beginning, when the world was created, and he will fully manifest
his lordship at the end of time, when he will judge all mankind. Today’s three
readings speak to us of this kingdom
. In the Gospel passage which we have just
heard, drawn from the account of Saint John, Jesus appears in humiliating
circumstances – he stands accused – before the might of Rome. He had been
arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation
to death by crucifixion. They had presented him to Pilate as one who sought
political power, as the self-proclaimed King of the Jews. The Roman procurator
conducts his enquiry and asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn
18:33). In reply to this question, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship
and his messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves.
He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign:
“My kingship is not of this world … is not from the world” (v. 36).

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read more ...

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory