By Leon Bent
Mumbai, Nov. 15, 2018: The Catholic Church will celebrate the Christ the King feat on November 25 this year.
Pope Pius XI started the feast in 1925. It is also called the ‘Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,’ ‘King of the Universe Festival.’ It honors Jesus Christ as the Lord over all Creation.
Initially, the feast was celebrated on the last Sunday in October, but the revised Liturgical Calendar promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 moved it to the last Sunday of Ordinary Time (immediately preceding Advent), where its theme of Christ’s dominion made it a fitting end to the Liturgical Year.
“It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of “King,” because of the high degree of perfection, he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign “in the hearts of men.”
Do we not read throughout the Scriptures that Christ is the King? The testimony of the prophets is even more abundant and that of Isaiah is well known: “For a child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever” (Isa.9:6).
This same doctrine of the Kingship of Christ we find in the Old Testament is even more clearly taught and confirmed in the New. The Archangel, announcing to the Virgin that she should bear a Son, says that “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Lk.1:32-33).
The Gospels present this Kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and further by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration.
This Kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.
The empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Pope Leo XIII: “His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that, the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ” (Enc. Annum Sacrum, May 25, 1899).
Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society.
“Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Catholic notion of receiving time as a gift from God is one of the many things which make us counter-cultural. In fact, the number of things which make us counter-cultural is increasing as the West abandons its foundations in Christendom and embraces a secularist delusion. Our actually choosing to live the Christian year, in a compelling way, can become a profoundly important form of missionary activity in an age which has become deluded by the barrenness of secularism.
A robust, evangelically alive and symbolically rich practice of living liturgically can invite our neighbors to examine our lives and be drawn to the One who is its source – Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End – as the emptiness of a life without God fails to fulfil the longing in their own hearts.
In a particular way, Catholic Christians are invited to mark time by the great events of the Christian faith in a Liturgical calendar. However, like so much that is contained within the treasury of the Catholic Church, the practice must be understood in order to be fully received as a gift and actually begin to influence the pattern of our daily living.
The Christian Faith is not ‘Some-Thing but Some- One’. The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members.
As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6-7).
Jesus Christ is King. Jesus Christ is Lord of All. Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.
The early Christians, before they were even called Christians, were referred to as the Way. (Acts 9:2, Acts 11:26) That was because they lived a very different way of life. A Way of Life which drew men and women to the One whose name they were soon privileged to bear, Jesus, the Christ.
One way this occurs in our own lives as (Catholic) Christians is to move from seeing the Church’s Liturgical Year as just some kind of “Catholic custom”, to seeing it as an invitation to enter into the mysteries of our faith in a manner which informs our entire life.
Classic liturgy knows but one Christ: the King, radiant, majestic, and divine!