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Ave Maria!

Feast of Christ the King--27 October AD 2013

Christ the King

Mass Text - English
Mass Text - Latin

Preface of Christ the King
Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

“I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth.
And everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”[1]

     This feast of Christ the King was established on the 11th of December 1925, when Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Quas primas —so it is a relatively new feast for our two thousand year old Church.  The date places it between the two world wars, and it was a clear priority of Pope Pius to reestablish “Christendom” as a means of preserving the peace.  That is a phrase that we don’t often hear today, “Christendom,” but at one time it was pretty much interchangeable with Western Civilization, and could reasonably be expanded to include the Eastern countries of the Slavs and the Greeks, the Christians of the Holy Land, and perhaps Northern Africa.  Pope Pius XI, then, was calling for the establishment of the social kingship of Jesus Christ on Earth, as a means of securing world peace and prosperity.

    About forty years earlier, the saintly Pope Leo XIII wrote:

        21. There was once a time when States were governed by the philosophy of the Gospel.  Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, flourished everywhere, by the favor of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates; and Church and State were happily united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices.  The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation [2]

    Today, such a thing seems beyond belief.  We would be amazed to turn on the television and hear the Pope say that “the religion instituted by Jesus Christ, [the Roman Catholic Church, should] … flourish everywhere, by the favor of princes and the legitimate protection of magistrates.”  Rather we might expect to hear that “the United Nations,” and not Jesus Christ, is “the last hope of concord and peace.”[3]  No doubt many people (modern Catholics included) would jump in quoting our Lord as saying “My kingdom is not of this world.”[4]  How, they would ask, can you have “the social kingship of Jesus Christ on Earth” if the King Himself says His “kingdom is not from hence”?

    It helps to recognize that our Lord was speaking with Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator.  Pilate’s idea of a “kingdom on Earth” would be like the Roman Empire.  At its greatest extent, the had grown from a portion of Modern Italy, to encompassing modern day Britain down to North Africa, and all the way east to Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and Armenia.  This “kingdom” was based on military force which extracted tribute and mineral riches from its subjects.  Back at home it was the most encompassing welfare society ever on the planet—Roman citizens could choose to be supported and entertained by the State.  It did build roads and keep the peace, but this was simply a recognition that it could gather more tribute if there was more commerce.  Certainly, Jesus Christ was not the “welfare/warfare” king that Pontius Pilate was accustomed to!

    What did our Lord say?  “I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truthThe kingship of Christ is in the knowledge and the application of God’s truth on earth.  Earlier in Saint John’s Gospel our Lord said:  “If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.[5]  His audience objected that they were “the sons of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man”—how they will your truth make us free?  To which Jesus answered: “Whosoever commits sin, is the servant of sin.”

    Modern people might think that a phrase like “the servant of sin” is melodramatic—but isn’t sin the root of the world’s problems?  the reason for her world wars? the cause of her sufferings?  Of course it is!!  Take a helping of greed, add equal parts of lust and anger, sprinkle on deceit, and cover with pride and agnosticism, and you have the recipe for a world war and the enslavement of peoples.

    Modern man might still resist, saying, for example, that the teachings of Gandhi, or perhaps those of the Buddha or Confucius, would also bring peace to the world.  True, they were peaceful men, and they possessed a coherent vision of the road to peace—but they lacked something only Jesus Christ can provide:  the means to sanctifying grace.  Mankind is fundamentally flawed by original sin and subsequent actual sins.  Gandhi certainly exercised great forbearance; the Buddha was capable of great self-denial; and Confucius understood the sanctity of family life and ordered society.  But only Christ possesses all three, and only Christ is able to make common men and women capable of exercising these and other virtues.  That requires grace to perfect nature.  It is the truth of Christ that makes us free.

    Had we read just one more verse in today’s Gospel, we would have seen Pontius Pilate’s response to our Lord’ words about being a king to “give testimony to the truth.”  Quite sarcastically, Pilate asked Him: “What is truth?  And [then] he went out again to the Jews….”[6]  Pilate was a cynic, and not a philosopher.  His question “What is truth?” was not an attempt to know what truth really is, otherwise he probably would have waited to hear an answer.  It was more like:  “I’ll show you what “truth” is with a blow from my fist or the heel of my boot.”

    Pilate’s contempt for the truth is common in many modern people who lack sanctifying grace.  Some, like Pilate, are overbearing cynics, ready to “reason” with their fists.  Others are more philosophical, but tend to deny the reality of objective truth.  They say, for example, that everyone views reality from a different perspective and there can be no agreement, and therefore no truth.  Others will claim that truth can be approached tangentially, through “dialogue,” failing to recognize that the “conversation” is always changing as people enter or leave the “dialogue”—that’s not truth, but rather a continually changing consensus.  Instead of “dialogue,” still others will grasp at the similar explanation of Marx and his “dialectic”—once society has been completely torn down, the evolutionary forces of thesis and antithesis will form a new synthesis of society—truth, they will say, is in the “class struggle.”

    The danger of the cynic seeking “truth” with his fists should be obvious—as should be the danger of the Marxist seeking ‘truth” in class struggle—peace is not created by war, and no violent, unreasoning attempt to rebuild society can ever be successful.

    But perhaps the “dialogue” of the modernists is more dangerous yet.  For in denying that objective truth is possible, the modernist is denying God, Who is the never-changing ground of all truth in the Universe.  In some matters, truth may be difficult or even impossible to know in this life, but it exists, nonetheless, in God and God’s knowledge of His creation.  And in denying truth in God, the Modernist is guilty of denying that there is any truth for God to reveal to us.  He is denying that we can know God, and denying that we can know what God expects of us—denying the essentials of a peaceful and prosperous society.

    The social kingship of Christ on Earth is the only hope for peace and prosperity among men.  Christ must reign in the hearts and minds of men and women all over the planet. “I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth.”  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

¡ Long live Christ the King !



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