Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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John 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say 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.”

After Jesus told Pilate, “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,” Pilate famously asked, “What is truth?”

Our current culture is convinced that, either there is no truth, or the truth cannot be known. Therefore, everyone is dedicated only to their truth, my truth, his or her truth. But, not to the truth. Christians, and Jews before Christians, have always held that there is truth and that the truth can be known, especially the truth about God. Why? Because God has made Himself know to us. That is the claim on which the Judeo-Christian tradition stands: that God can be known because He has made Himself known.

And what has God made known? For one thing, that He is truth itself. In a sense, this is what the kingship of Christ rests upon: Christ is truth, so nothing in the universe can stand against Him, because nothing can stand against the truth. All else is lie. All else is untruth, and untruth is the same as unreal. What is not truth does not, in truth, exist. Christ, as the truth, is the bedrock on which all else stands.

The Solemnity of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, with his encyclical Quas Primas. At the time, Europe was rife with nationalism after World War I. The Allied powers were flush with victory, determined to make Germany kneel. Germany, for its part, was devastated by the burdens placed on it by defeat, which inspired a renewed nationalism that, ultimately, led to National Socialism and the roots of the Second World War. It was the desire of Pope Pius XI that all nations recognize the kingship of Christ so that all nations might achieve that peace which Christ promised. He wrote in his encyclical: “If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth — he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: ‘My yoke is sweet and my burden light.’ Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ!”

Sadly, the governors of nations then, and now, choose rather to rely on their own wisdom and understanding rather than that of Christ. As such, there is little peace. Even in the Church, too often those in leadership trust themselves and their own connivings rather than place their trust in the truth that Christ reveals and on which all progress relies.

It is not only nations, but each individual that must choose to place his or her trust in Christ the King. By doing so, grace makes possible perfection in the life of faith. As Pope Pius XI wrote: “The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths [of the kingship of Christ], will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”

May Christ then reign in our minds, in our wills, in our hearts, and in our bodies, that grace may lead to perfection, and perfection to the joys of the kingdom. Amen.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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