Christ the King, 21 Nov 21
The Feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to growing secularism and nationalism in the world of that time less than a century ago. It was to be kept on the last Sunday of October. It was transferred from 1970, by Pope St. Paul VI, to the last Sunday of the Church's Year as a thanksgiving for blessings received in the year ending and as a looking forward to the Season of Advent which prepares us both to celebrate the Lord`s Nativity at Christmas and a looking forward to when He shall return again in His Power and Great glory at the end of time.
That great Father of the Church, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who lived from AD376 to AD444 and was Patriarch of Alexandria from AD412 – 444 is said to have been a major inspiration to Pius XI in founding this Feast. For Cyril, in his writings, says: “Christ has dominion over all creatures,….by essence and by nature.” His kingship is founded upon the hypostatic union, which is to say, “The Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things on common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.
Again, "From this it follows that to Christ angels and men are subject. Christ is also King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer” We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us “with a great price”; our very bodies are the “members of Christ” through the grace of baptism.
A third ground of sovereignty is that God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” says Jesus in St. Matthew's Gospel chapter 28 verse 18 as he begins his last command to his disciples immediately before his Ascension into Heaven.
Today's readings are full of the Kingship of Christ. The Old Testament Reading from that Apocalyptic Prophecy of Daniel which came to prominence in the bitter persecution of the Jews in the second century BC when it bolstered the faith of the beleaguered First Chosen People of God though written from four centuries earlier during the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews. We read of “the one like a son of man”, whom Jesus identified Himself with, who Daniel had seen in the visions of the night “coming on the clouds of heaven”. To this Son of Man were given “dominion and glory and kingship that all should serve Him….His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed.”
The second Reading of the Apocalypse or Revelation to St John, following the example quoted from Daniel likewise explains how the Risen Christ will come amid the clouds – “everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen.”
The sentence from the Gospel Acclamation from St Mark 11, 9 & 10 shows Jesus as our King of Love and Humility as he descends the Mount of Olives riding on a donkey with people ahead and behind, spreading their cloaks or branches on the ground, shouting in great joy, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven.”
What do we find concerning the Kingship of Jesus in the Gospels? Well, we begin with the Archangel Gabriel`s visit to Our Lady in the home at Nazareth telling of God`s call to her to become the Mother of the Messiah in Luke chapter 1 and in verses 32 and 33 these words: “and the Lord will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever, anmd of His Kingdom there will be no end.” Indeed, the Kingdom of God is at the centre of Our Lord`s teaching and the phrase occurs no less than 122 times of which 90 instances are used by Jesus himself! In the second chapter of St. Matthew`s Gospel we find the Magi coming from the east to enquire of King Herod in Jerusalem, “Where is the child who has been born King of the Jews ? For we observed His star at its rising, and have come to pay Him homage.”
The mention of the triumphal ride into Jerusalem has already been mentioned. Today`s Gospel reading shoes us the scene of Jesus before Pontius Pilate who questioned Him, “Are you the King of the Jews” and all that follows. But we note, most importantly Jesus explanation of His Kingdom: `Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind` and again, a few moments later, Jesus continues: `Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.` The inscription nailed to the top of the cross on which Jesus was crucified – and ordered by Pilate to be written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, the languages of the then known world bore the words: JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS.
Jesus` Kingdom, the reign of God does not operate according to this world`s criteria of power and dominance but is based rather on The Beatitudes, which He taught in His “Sermon on the Mount” and found in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus rules through loving service rather than domination, His a, authority is rooted in truth, not if physical force. Jesus states that His purpose for coming into the world as: to bear witness to the Truth about a larger and eternal Kingdom, about God and His love, about our relationship with Him, through our union with Him in Baptism and the Eucharist, and about whom we are called to be in union with Him.
Today, as we look to Jesus our King, the True King of the Universe He shows His commitment to the Father and to us. The message for us to assess our commitment to Christ our King today. We need to remember the truth that Jesus is not our King if we do not listen to, love, serve, and follow where Jesus leads. We belong to Christ`s Kingdom only when we try to walk with Christ, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel, and when that Gospel spirit pervades every facet of our living. We become subjects of Christ the King when we sincerely respond to Jesus` loving invitation: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Amen.