Christ The King statue in Świebodzin, Poland. This is the largest statue of Jesus in the world (yes, even larger than Rio de Janeiro). It is 33 meters (over 108 feet) tall. One meter for each year of Jesus life. Note the gold crown.
The last Sunday of the Church liturgical Calendar is celebrated as the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Although Christians have celebrated Jesus as the King of Kings since the very beginnings and the Jews have celebrated the Messiah as the coming King long before Jesus, this Feast is relatively new. Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast in 1925 in his encyclical QUAS PRIMAS and it was first celebrated in 1926. Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast as a result of changes that were occurring throughout the world. There was a rise of both Communism and non-Christian dictatorships that tried to keep their people from worshiping God and following the Church. There was a large growth of secularism that had people questioning the role of God and the Church in their lives. People were simply denying Christ and doubting His authority and existence, as well as doubting the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority.
The truth of the matter is, this seems to be occurring again today. People are putting Jesus aside and are not going to Church. Even our own government has tried to take away the Church’s authority over its people. God has been taken out of our government, and schools and courts. That is why this Feast is so timely even today. Our recent Presidential elections have shown a great divide in our country and some people seem lost. The problem is, our hope should not be fully in who is leading our country. Our hope should be in the Lord. I saw a sign before the elections that really brings this home. It said:
Today’s Feast day celebrates that very thought, and much more. Let us look at what Pope Pius XI hoped to accomplish in celebrating this feast:
1 – That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas 32).
2 – That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas 31).
3 – That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feas, as we reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas 33)
The first two of these are a constant battle. We need to make sure that the State recognizes our rights to freely worship God as we are called to do. The second is also difficult. We must elect leaders who can give respect to Jesus. The third, and last, is where we ourselves need to work the hardest. We MUST see Jesus as King of everything that we are. He must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies. Today individualism has been so embraced that for many, the only authority is the individual self. They reject the idea of Jesus as ruler. Many see the title of King or Lord as archaic and borrowed from oppressive systems of government. Certainly some Kings have been oppressive, but Jesus surely is not that kind of King. He himself said in Mark 10: 42-45, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus replied in John 18: 36-37, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus certainly knew the oppressive nature of some Kings and in contrast to them he showed His role as King as one of humble service and commanded all His followers to do the same. He tied His Kingdom to His own suffering and death. He will come again as King to judge the nations. However He showed us that His Kingdom is one of love and mercy and peace and forgiveness. Jesus turned around the concept of Kingship. We know that when we make Him King of all that we are and all that we do, we will experience that Kingdom.
Let us all strive to make Jesus our King. Here is a prayer that may help us in doing that:
Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King
Most sweet Jesus,
Redeemer of the human race,
look down upon us humbly prostrate before you.
We are yours, and yours we wish to be;
but to be more surely united with you,
behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
to your Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known you;
many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you.
Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus,
and draw them to your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord,
not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you,
but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you;
grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house,
lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions,
or whom discord keeps aloof,
and call them back
to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith,
so that soon there may be
but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance
of freedom and immunity from harm;
give tranquility of order to all nations;
make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry:
Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation;
to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.
Also known as “Iesu dulcissime, Redemptor”