This Sunday, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. On this day, we contemplate the kingship of Jesus our Redeemer.
Blessed John Paul II said that “if it is assessed according to the criteria of this world, Jesus’ kingship can appear ‘paradoxical’. Indeed, the power he exercises does not fit into earthly logic. On the contrary, his is the power of love and service that requires the gratuitous gift of self and the consistent witness to the truth (cf. John 18, 37).”
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we will hear Saint John’s account of Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus before the sentence of crucifixion. Pontius Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” He then goes on to answer Pilate’s subsequent question “Then you are a king?” by stating “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.”
This dialogue between Pilate and Jesus reminds us that Our Lord’s kingship is real, yet it is unlike political kingship. He did not come to rule over peoples and territories. For Him, to reign was to serve! His throne was the cross where He revealed His power, the power of love. With this power, Christ the King set people free from the slavery of sin and reconciled them to God the Father. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus witnessed to the truth that God is love. On Calvary, He witnessed this truth to the full with the sacrifice of His own life. He conquered Satan, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has spoken of the power of Christ the King in this way: “It is not the power of the kings or the great people of this world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, that can melt a hardened heart, bring peace amid the harshest conflict and kindle hope in the thickest darkness.”
Jesus told Pilate that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth. During this Year of Faith, we are called to embrace this truth more deeply. When we embrace this truth, the truth of the Gospel, the truth of Jesus, the truth of Love, we are not guaranteed success in this world. Remember, Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world. But we are assured of the peace and joy that only Christ can give us. This is a lesson we learn from the lives of the saints and martyrs of the Church.
In this Year of Faith, the Church invites us to be renewed in our faith in Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, and to be authentically converted to Him. He alone gives us true life. He alone is our salvation. We need to be ardent witnesses of the faith to those who do not believe or whose faith has grown lukewarm. We are witnesses when we follow and imitate the King who reigned through self-giving love and service. Following Christ in our increasingly secularized world can entail great sacrifices, but our faith in Him strengthens us and frees us from all our fears and insecurities so that we can live in freedom and happiness.
We gather in our churches this Sunday, as we do every Sunday, to worship Christ our King. We celebrate the memorial of His death and resurrection. The King of the Universe comes to us under the humble forms of bread and wine to nourish us with His true Body and Blood. Our Eucharistic King strengthens us to overcome evil with good, and hatred and violence with forgiveness and love.
It is our choice whether or not we wish to accept and serve a king whose kingship is not based on human power, but on loving and serving others. When Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925, he wanted to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly supremacy claimed by dictators at that time. In our day, we need this reminder that our first allegiance must be to Christ the King, especially as we face the temptations of our growing culture of secularism and relativism. Our promotion and defense of religious liberty is also vitally important so that we are indeed free to serve our King through the Church’s many ministries of service in society.
From the Cross, our King pours out his gifts upon humanity of all times and places. We praise and thank Him for freeing us from the slavery of sin and the dominion of death. May we serve, honor, and obey Him in our daily lives! May Christ’s peace reign in your hearts!
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