Feast of Christ the King—28 October AD 2007
God will “reconcile to Himself all things, whether on the
earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of His Cross.”
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King (English)
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King (Latin)
Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
In this morning’s Gospel, our Lord has been forced to
appear before the Roman official, Pontius Pilate, on trumped up charges
preferred against him by the Sanhedrin, the court of the High Priest.
Under Roman law, the Sanhedrin did not have the authority to put anyone to
death—and the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead, so they cooked up charges of
treason against the Roman Empire. Jesus, they claimed, was the head of a
revolutionary movement that would make Him King of the Jews, and therefore a
threat to the Romans who occupied Israel.
The testimony can be a little confusing, for first, our
Lord tells Pilate: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” But a sentence
or two later, He say: “I am a King: this is why I was born and why I
came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”
We know that our Lord did not come to establish a political
kingdom. He was no threat to the Roman government, carried no
sword, preached no rebellion, and left his followers no
instructions as to how they might seek public office and become part of the
government. Not by war or even by peaceful means did He intend to replace
the Roman or Jewish governments with a kingdom of His own.
But yet, the Church and the Scriptures speak of “Christ
the King.” He identifies Himself as such, and Saint Paul does the same
in the Epistle we read this morning: God “has transferred us into the
kingdom of His beloved Son.”
We might, therefore, ask ourselves, ‘Why must Christ be a King in this
world?” and “How exactly is He supposed to reign?”
Christ is King, first of all, because He is God.
“The Word was with God, and the Word was God ... and all things were made
“All created things have been created through and unto Him.”
All things are His, by right
of creation. But God created mankind with the ability to know Him and to
know His laws through natural reason. It was not absolutely necessary
for God to reveal His law. Thoughtful people trying to establish a
thriving society can reason for themselves that such a society will work only if
they do not kill and beat and cheat and steal from each other. In such
societies, God’s law is obeyed, and God can be said to reign through the
people who administer His law, even if He is not there in person.
In history we have seen such societies. The ancient
Sumerians had a remarkably moral legal code. Rome at its peak brought a
great measure of justice, peace, and prosperity within the Empire. In
their early days, our own United States were governed by “the laws of nature
and nature’s God.” In the height of their civilizations, all societies
like these conform to God’s Natural Moral Law—at least to a high degree.
It is only when people in power begin to think of government as a coercive force
to use for their own benefit that God’s laws and even the existing civil laws
begin to be violated.
The problem, of course, is that mankind’s natural reason
is clouded by original sin. Even though it is not logical, sinful men will
sometimes conclude that lies are better then truth, that war is better than
peace, that theft is superior to production. In the state of sin, men will
delude themselves into thinking that their successes are purely their own,
independent of God’s providence. If the delusion is severe enough, men
will convince themselves that God is their enemy, that He must be banished from
the public discourse, lest He keep them from the false enjoyment of their lives.
In part, God answered this problem by making His Natural
Law into public revelation. On Mount Sinai, he revealed what we should
have already known for ourselves—He gave Moses His natural Law in written
form—what we call today the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Moral Law as
it is found in the first few books of the Bible, notably Exodus and Deuteronomy.
The Jewish people rejoiced in this gift, knowing that the law was a sure guide,
both for not offending God, and for building a peaceful and just society:
“He has proclaimed
His word to Jacob, * His statutes and His ordinances to Israël;
He has not done this for any other nation; * His ordinances He has not made
known to them.”
But even when the Moral Law is fully known, man’s
instincts are still base in the state of sin. Sin darkens the mind, clouds
the intellect, and dims the will. That is why Saint Paul wrote today’s
Epistle to the Colossians: God “has rescued us from the power of
darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved son in Whom we have
redemption through His blood, the remission of our sins.”
The Preface of this Mass tells us that God, “with the oil
of gladness, has anointed His Son 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....”
The reign of Christ on the Cross has redeemed the world. Mankind has been
raised to its highest state since the fall of Adam and Eve. Once again, to
use Saint Augustine’s phrase, each man and woman has become a creature “capax
Dei—capable or having the capacity for God.” He is no longer
restricted to knowing God by natural means alone, for the Kingdom of the Cross
enables him to respond to with faith in what God has revealed. The Kingdom
of the Cross enables him to be baptized and filed with sanctifying grace, to
become radically holy, and to have God dwell in his very soul. The Kingdom
of the Cross enables him to do what is pleasing in the sight of God, his
adoptive Father, and to begin entering the Kingdom of Heaven right here on
earth. The Kingdom of the Cross is the only hope for enduring peace and
widespread justice in this world.
When Pope Pius XI established this feast back in 1925,
he gave us this beautiful Mass with its unique proper Preface, to be offered on
the Sunday before All Saints day. He also decreed that “the dedication
of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, commanded by Pope Saint Pius X,
is to be renewed on this day each year.”
Why the Sacred Heart? And why on this day?
Because the Sacred Heart is the fitting symbol of God’s Love Incarnate.
By becoming a human being, like us in all things but sin, God has demonstrated
that He is not just some abstract force in the universe. He is more than
the fearful God called “Yahweh” in the Old Testament. He is far
more than the impersonal “Allah” of the Koran. There is
no “sacred heart of Allah,” not even a “sacred heart of Yahweh”
of the Old Testament.
In the Sacred Heart of Jesus we see the love of God so
powerful that it humbled Him to “be made like unto men ... becoming obedient
to ... death on the cross.
It is the Heart, on the Cross, which the “soldier opened, and immediately
there came forth blood and water.”
It is the Heart from which comes Baptism and the Holy Eucharist; the Heart
from which flows spirit and life.
The Sacred Heart is the Heart of Christ the King, who, with
“all creation being made subject to His dominion, He might deliver us into the
hands of [God’s] infinite Majesty, a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom
of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love
Through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, God will “reconcile to Himself all things,
whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of His