This feast of Christ the King is of recent vintage in the life of the church. Pope Pius XI instituted the feast in 1925. It was his reaction to the growing nationalism spreading throughout Europe, a nationalism that eventually led to World War 2 in Sept. of 1939. In 1925 Pius XI was still known as the prison of the Vatican. The independent Vatican State was not established until 1929. But nationalism was on the rise and to put nationalism into perspective Pope Pius gave us this feast, the full title of which is, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
The humiliated Jesus standing before Pilate dressed in mock purple and wearing his painful crown of thorns made it clear he was not interested in worldly power, his was no threat to Roman Authority – his kingdom was not of this world. His kingdom is a reign over the minds and hearts of all people.
In his letter to the Philippians St. Paul tells us that Jesus didn’t see his equality with God as something to be exploited and so he emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross –therefore God highly exalted him and gave him a name above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’
This is what we celebrate in this feast, the diminish, mocked and humiliated king of the Jews who stood before Pilate now glorified in the presence of his Father, now recognized as King of the Universe.
Jesus does not reject the title king, but neither does he accept the ordinary political implications of the title. His is another kind of kingship entirely. And his authority derives its power from a source other than this world.
The Kingdom of God is a time and an opportunity. The kingdom of God becomes real whenever anyone of us provides food for hungry people, the kingdom of God becomes real whenever we support those who offer shelter to a homeless person, the kingdom of God becomes real when we support and welcome refugee families to Canada. The kingdom of God becomes real whenever we care for a neglected person. The kingdom of God becomes real whenever we work for social justice for those men and women and children who live below the poverty line. The kingdom of God becomes real whenever we as individuals join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the faith. The kingdom of God becomes real when we form a personal mind set and life style to live simply that others may simply live. The kingdom of God becomes real when we forgive past hurts and bring peace into our homes and families.
In Preface of today’s feast we acknowledge that Christ’s kingdom is to be a universal kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. Whenever these are forces in our lives then we are living in Christ’s kingdom. So we pray daily…..
Thy kingdom come, thy kingdom come.