The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, celebrated the last Sunday of the liturgical year, is one of the more recent additions to the calendar of liturgical commemorations in the Church. Established in 1925, the origins of the feast lie with the desire of Pope Pius XI to address the growing trends of secularism and nationalism that arose after the first World War. Originally celebrated in October, the Sunday before the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration to the last Sunday before Advent.

Celebrated on the verge of a new liturgical year, the Solemnity emphasizes the fullness of human history that finds its origin and completion in Christ. As the coming Advent season will remind us that we are promised a future and a destiny embraced in hope, Christ the King affirms that this hope can only be found in and through Jesus Christ.

The Solemnity celebrates the truth that all believers belong, first and foremost, to Christ. This truth, however, does not translate into a blind or narrow allegiance or loyalty in imitation of national or civil allegiance. The Solemnity asks for believers to rise above the fleeting and limited allegiances that we human beings establish or try to establish among ourselves.

Christ acknowledged as “King of the Universe” is not a leader like other ideas of leadership we human beings feebly embrace. The image of Christ the King is one of leadership that transcends the weakness and selfishness that human leadership can manifest. Christ as King shows neither partiality nor bias.

Christ is king, not of an earthly kingdom, but of a reality and truth that expresses God’s never-ending, never-failing presence with and for creation.

This feast celebrates the “Reign” of God, a more dynamic experience of God’s promises to us than any idea of “kingdom” could ever convey. At the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, it is the “Reign” of God that Jesus proclaims. Luke’s gospel gives this reign shape and substance as a reality where love, forgiveness, mercy, giving, and an attitude that withholds vicarious judgment is part of the life fabric of humanity.

Christ the King opens a new horizon for humanity not only encouraging these five attitudes and behaviors, but also demonstrating that they are not unattainable intangibles. The Reign of Christ the King is not a future hope for us who dare to believe in a world torn by division and strife; it is a present reality that we must never tire of realizing in our daily lives.

Published on: Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tags: Holy Day, Holy Day, Holy Days