Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Mt 25:31-46) “Our King in a Kingless Age” PDF Version
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (2017)
Being 2017, is there any place in our present society to honour kingship? Since the beheading of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution, much of the modern world has rejected the rule of a nation under the authority of a king and speaks with self-loathing of the days of old when divinely appointed monarchs governed the affairs of most kingdoms the world over.
We are taught to love the Robin Hoods of the past and scorn the King John’s of old. For example, the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family are remembered with fondness by many while the killing of the mass murderer Che Guevarra is mourned by those who wear t-shirts with his countenance and yet know little of, or worse idolize, the grave crimes he committed against humanity.
Many text books used in high schools and universities do little to hide their biased view of history by describing kingship as a form of oppression of the poor, tyrannical leadership of the masses and the most base of human governance when compared to the marvels of modern democracy, forgetting the timeless observation of Plato that democracy, when governed void of virtue and by incompetent leaders, is little better than the rule of dictators.
By and large, the rule of a king is given little praise in modern times and is relegated to being either a shameful memory of the past or deemed favourable when kings occupy the pages of fantasy novels or TV miniseries, transforming kingship into make believe forms of entertainment that has no place in lived reality.
And yet, year after year, Catholic Christians continue to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, unabashedly and confidently saying we do believe in the rule of a king, a monarch who reigns in heaven above but whose rule is very much alive and present in ways in which we, the citizens of his kingdom, continue to practice and preach all that our king has taught us.
This is not to say that there are voices within our Church who express their embarrassment that we continue to call Christ our king in an age when democratic rule governs the majority of the world’s nation states. Is it now the moment that the Church get with the modern times and divest Christ of His kingship, refashioning Him in the spirit of the modern age as a populist champion of social justice or a spiritual but not religious leader who teaches us to love, in whatever ways we want love to mean and be?
Catholic Christianity in 2017 and in years to come is a counter cultural religion. Among its teachings which scandalize many in our modern age is that Jesus Christ is and will forever be a king, not only of Catholics, but of the entire universe, and all will be expected to recognize and honour this king at the end of the world, experiencing His dread judgment and asked what homage do we present before His Eternal Throne?
No one will exempt from this day of days and all will be asked to provide an answer to the same question. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will look into the depth of our being and know whether or not when “he was hungry and we gave him food, thirsty and we gave him drink, a stranger and we welcomed him, naked and we clothed him, ill and we cared for him, and imprisoned and we visited him.”
This question, the one that really matters and the one that we must respond to with the right answer, is yes Lord, I saw you, I knew you, I loved you, whenever I knew you were asking me to show mercy to those who were in need. I showed them mercy and offered them love because you, my king, were in the midst of them. No, more than that, it was you who were begging for food, parched with thirst for truth, rejected and looking for acceptance, violated and looking for true affection, dying and alone in a hospital bed and needed to be visited or held in bondage in the prisons of addiction and sin and yes Lord, in my weakness and my inadequacy, I was there for you, because I love you my king, and this is the homage that you asked of me.
Are we ready to respond to our King in this way? If today is my last or today is the end of all things, could I say to Jesus, in truthful honesty, (for what point is there trying to lie to the King of the Universe who knows us better than we know ourselves), that yes Lord, I did strive to live those works of mercy that you call each of us to practice, not as optional activities that may or may not bring us meaning and fulfillment in this life, but actions that are an absolute obligation and requirement to inherit a portion of our King’s eternal realm.
It is our unmerited privilege that Christ choose to be our King and for us to be His people. To have a king is to know that a king is to be given homage, not because it makes us feel good to render him gifts, but because it is his sovereign right to render onto him what he freely gave to us. He gave us love and love eternal upon the Cross. He asks for love to be returned onto Him, most especially the love that is given to others and passes through them on route to His Heavenly Throne.
Let us spend time today praying for one another to take the necessary time to ponder the challenging and even frightening words of Today’s Gospel and compel us to consider how well I have been paying my homage to Our King in the ways I love Him in my brothers and sisters.
In addition, may these words of Pope Benedict XVI give us cause for pause and reflection today:
“Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of honours and appearances but, as St Paul writes, it is “righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm 14:17). The Lord has our good at heart, that is, that every person should have life, and that especially the “least” of his children may have access to the banquet he has prepared for all. Thus he has no use for the forms of hypocrisy of those who say: “Lord, Lord” and then neglect his commandments (cf. Mt 7:21). In his eternal Kingdom, God welcomes those who strive day after day to put his Word into practice. For this reason the Virgin Mary, the humblest of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. Let us once again entrust ourselves to her heavenly intercession with filial trust, to be able to carry out our Christian mission in the world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, St Peter’s Square, Sunday 23 November 2008).