Text - English
Mass Text - Latin
Preface of Christ the King
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
In the Preface of today’s Mass we read
God the Father, “with the oil of
gladness hast anointed [His] only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
as eternal high priest and universal King; that offering Himself on the
altar of the Cross as an immaculate victim and peace offering, He might
complete the mysteries of human redemption; and all creation being made
subject to His dominion, He might deliver us into the hands of Thine
infinite Majesty, a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth
and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love
This morning we celebrate a relatively
new feast in the Church's calendar. For only in 1925, between the chaos of the
two World Wars, did Pope Pius XI institute this feast of Christ the King. He
did so as something of a warning—a warning, which seems generally not to have
been heeded—that unless secular powers returned to Christian principles in the
running of their affairs, there would be anarchy and disorder.
In his encyclical, Quas Primas,
the Holy Father explained that Jesus Christ is indeed a King.
That He exercises the three-fold power of lawgiver, executive, and judge. And
that He does so, not by any sort of force or coercion, but by virtue of being
the designer and creator of all things. He quotes St. Augustine to tell us that
it was “a condescension, not a promotion, that the Son of God … by whom all
things were made, should will to be King of Israël.” Jesus Christ is King,
because He is God.
For most Americans, the idea of having a
king seems a little bit backwards—and, perhaps, a little bit humiliating. We
have lived in a relatively stable republic for over 200 years. When we think of
King George, our last king, we tend to call to mind slogans about “taxation
without representation,” or “give me liberty or give me death.”
Most of us equate monarchy with
dictatorship. We think of a king as someone who has imposed his will on his
people, in order to increase his glory at their expense. And, of course, at
times, this conception of monarchy has all too correct.
But there is another side to monarchy.
If we look back to mediaeval times, we will see that people generally held a
different view. They wanted a strong king—one who could organize the kingdom
and protect them against the invasion of outsiders. They wanted a king who was
willing and able to dispense justice within his own realm; one who was not
afraid to challenge the powerful and the wealthy when they acted unjustly. They
wanted to be vassals of the king, for by doing homage to him, they became his
men; favored by him, and honored in their own right.
There were bad kings, as well as good
kings. Those that had real wealth and power tended to be good kings. Those who
didn't quite “have it all together” were the ones who became petty tyrants.
We ought to understand the Kingship of
Christ in a similar manner.
Almighty God is just that—almighty,
all-powerful, and possessing all that He could ever want. He has no reason to
take away our property, nor to deprive us of our liberties. Indeed, He is the
source of these things. It is an act of condescension, and not one of
aggression, that He rules over us as our King.
Like the medieval vassal, we should
understand the advantages of being one of Christ the King's subjects.
X It is only through this powerful King that we can repel the
invasions of the devil, who would like to enter and despoil us of our
property, taking from us even our very soul.
X It is only through this most-just King that our society can
enjoy the blessings of justice. Only where the laws of God are observed
can we expect families and states and nations to work together in
harmony and equity to produce and enjoy the fruits of the earth.
X And just as the vassals of the medieval king became important
because of their relationship with him, as vassals of Christ the King,
we take on a certain air of royal dignity. An air that we know as
In the Gospel this morning, we heard our
Lord tell us that “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Let us be sure that we are not mislead by this statement, for He also says,
“Truly I am a King.”
Christ's kingdom may not be of this world, but it surely is
and should be in this world. He does not come to usurp, or
to disrupt, or to destroy, or to take over. Rather, He comes to protect the
weak, and to establish justice among men and nations.
The kingdom of the Jews, the empire of
the Romans, that of the British, and the republic of the Americans, are all
transitory powers—none of them endures forever. The only Kingdom that endures
forever, the one around which all earthly kingdoms must be modeled—otherwise
they will perish from the earth —is the Kingdom of God.
[The] kingdom eternal and universal,
[the] kingdom of truth and life, [the] kingdom of holiness and grace, [the]
kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
Long Live Christ the King!!