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Text - English
Mass Text - Latin
Preface of Christ the King
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Recited after Mass today)
“Thou art My Son,; this day I have begotten
I will give Thee the nations for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth
for Thy possession.”
Today is the feast of
Christ the King—a comparatively new feast as things go in the
Church—celebrated only since 1926, after being instituted by Pope Pius XI.
Pope Pius told a twentieth century war torn world: “Men must look for the
peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.”
But, of course, our Lord's kingship itself is as old as time. Our Lord is
king, not by usurpation, or force, or political intrigue. Rather, He is
king by virtue of being our Creator, “for without Him was made nothing that
has been made.”
“My kingdom,” He tells
us, “is not of this world.”
Yet, in saying this to Pontius Pilate, He is not denying His own authority
over men and manmade institutions. If anything, he is indicating that His
kingdom is not so small or restricted as to be bound by worldly limits. His
kingdom extends not only to the Earth, Moon, and Stars, but to the very
firmament of the eternal kingdom of Heaven as well. “All power has been
given to Me, both in Heaven and on Earth.”
“All power," indeed—but
it is instructive to examine the way in which our Lord exercised that power
over those subject to Him. First of all,
let us see what our Lord was not—what He didn't do in the
exercise of His kingship.
Above all, He was not a
military leader. We have no image of Him with a big sword in His hand,
leading troops against the enemies of God's people. Indeed, He generally
urged passivity toward the occupying Roman legions. His followers are urged
to “turn the other cheek,” and to “go the extra mile.”
This latter phrase is significant, referring to the legal right of the Roman
soldier to force a non-Roman to carry his baggage for distances up to a
mile. Not only is Christ not counseling revolution, but He is saying simply
to ignore the Roman trespassers—the worldly things which they are concerned
are just not worth getting excited about. They are foreigners, perhaps, but
they are not doing anything worse than any other government. Pay your
taxes, act civilly, and they leave you alone.
Likewise, He is not a
political leader, trying to outsmart the Romans, or to change the local
Jewish government, or to take authority away from the Pharisees and the
Sadducees. He is not trying to get His share of votes in the Sanhedrin or
Nor is He an economic
planner or a businessman. He amassed virtually no wealth—He seems to have
owned only His clothing. He was, in fact, so free of guile that He
appointed Judas to be His treasurer!
In short, our Lord did
not come to earth to establish an army, or an economic system, or a
political party—not even to preach the theory of these things. He came to
establish His kingdom in a far different way. He came to rule in men's
hearts and minds, so as to lead them to happiness in an eternal kingdom
A few words will
suffice to explain what our Lord did do—how He
exercised His eternal kingdom on Earth. In everything, His rule was—perhaps
“is” is a better word—is directed to the eternal
perspective. It is not directed toward the transient materiality of the
Certainly, our Lord
practices His kingship as legislator, or law giver. And, like any good
lawgiver, His laws are just—and—they serve to benefit those who obey them.
“Thou shalt not have any false gods, or kill, or commit adultery, or steal,
or lie....” All of His laws reflect the reality of our nature. By obeying
them we doing what is naturally best for us. “Following the manufacturer's
instructions,” as it were.
He manifests His
kingship as executive, day by day, and moment by moment, carrying out the
His administration of all things. He numbers the hairs of your head, and
the sands of the seashore—He calls each of the stars by name.
And ultimately, He is
judge, weighing all things with the combination of His infinite mercy
and justice. Our most bold offenses, as well as our most
hidden sins will one day be exposed to the blinding light of His judgment.
His “kingdom is not
of this world,” but, at least in part, it is in
this world. By our very nature, we are subject to Him. We exist because
He created us, and because He keeps us in existence. What is truly good for
us is precisely what is required of us in His law.
He established no
political party, but all legitimate authority comes from Him; whether it be
the authority of a king, or a president, or a parliament; whether it be the
authority of the Church, or a diocese, or a parish; even the authority in a
family comes naturally from Christ our King.
It is a serious mistake
to think that any society can legitimately exist without acknowledging and
paying the honor that is due to almighty God. And, certainly, no society
can institutionalize the breaking of His laws and expect to receive His
continued blessing and protection. This is something that we should
continue to call to the attention of our politicians, and keep firmly in
mind in our organizations and families.
It is, then, an
important concept which we call to mind in today's feast. Jesus Christ is
our Lord, and Redeemer, and King.
It is important that we
understand this correctly. The apostle who expected Jesus to beat down the
Romans and establish an earthly kingdom was disappointed, betrayed his
master, and hanged himself. It was this Judas who was concerned that some
ointment offered by Mary Magdalene “could be sold for a great price, and
given to the poor.”
Not that he was concerned with the poor, but that he wanted to fatten the
treasury— probably to steal it. Judas was concerned with governments, and
economic systems, and armies, and politics; and he was disappointed, “and it
would have been better for him if he were not born.”
Christ is King, more
correctly, in a more general and all encompassing way. He is our ultimate
lawgiver, executive, and judge. He is king of a kingdom which is in this
world, but is not of this world. The kingdom of which we are most properly
citizens is not bound by the shores of any river or ocean, nor by the peaks
of any mountain range. It is not bound by political party, nor economic
program. It is not bound by a few hundred, or even a thousand years of
The kingdom of which we
are properly citizens is the eternal and boundless kingdom of God, which
only begins in this world, but finds fulfillment in the next.
Long live Jesus Christ!
Long live Christ the
King ! !