Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christus Regnat!

Readings for Sunday, November 25/ Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe:
Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm 93:1, 2, 5
Revelation 1:5-8
John 18:33-37

As we come to the close of the liturgical year we honor Our Lord Jesus Christ under the title of King of the Universe, for indeed He is our great king and “ruler of the kings of the earth.” But why this solemn feast?

The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe was instituted not so long ago, only in 1929, as compared to most other feasts that date back many centuries, even to the Apostles. At that time, Pope Pius XI saw tin the world around him a radical secularization, as God and faith were being increasingly removed from the public forum and often mocked from those in power. To combat this tendency, Pope Pius instituted this solemn feast – the highest rank of liturgical celebration in the Church – in order to emphasize to Catholics and people all throughout the world that not only does God belong in the public forum, He is Himself the foundation of all that we do and He has absolute power over all creation, including those who claim earthly power. He is indeed the King of the Universe!

Often when we think of kings we think of those men who are less than honorable figures in society. While there certainly have been some great Catholic kings in the past two hundred years, the greater majority are characterized by a certain self-seeking attitude. The kingly authority is something they relish in and flaunt their authority over those subject to them. Sometimes by military strength, other times by birth or by election, they assume an authority and must fight to defend it. But in the end, every earthly king will pass away, his crown be given to another after him, and his name be forgotten in history.

But Christ comes to us with a new type of kingship, something utterly different. In saying “My kingdom is not of this world” He reveals to us this difference – that His kingdom is a heavenly one. He knew this long before and even gave us a hint earlier in His life, as we see in John 6 at the feeding of the 5000. After He had worked this great miracle the people immediately start seeking the Lord out in order to make Him their king, but He knows that this is foolishness because doing such would be settling for a lower authority than awaits Him, so he flees. His Kingdom is surely on the Earth – it is around us and within us – but it is not of the Earth.

As we look at our readings today we see three distinguishing features of this Heavenly Kingship that Christ Jesus exercises. First, His authority is not taken but received. The reading from the prophet Daniel describes this but in mystical terms. The Book of Daniel is a mysterious one in which Daniel has visions of Heaven. One such vision, immediately preceding the passage we heard proclaimed, is one in which various beasts rise up and flaunt their power and authority over one another. But then something happens that changes it all: One like a son of man comes on the clouds. As people on Earth, coming on the clouds means looking up for one coming down. But since Daniel’s vision was a Heavenly one, it seems more that the one coming on the clouds is coming up to Heaven. This is Our Lord Jesus coming on the clouds of Heaven in His Ascension from the Earth. After conquering death by His Glorious Resurrection, Our Lord merits the Kingship bestowed upon Him, and receives it; a Kingship that is unending and unmatched.

The second distinguishing feature of Christ’s Kingship is that it is eternal. Unlike all earthly rulers, Christ, because He is the eternal God, exercises a Kingship that does not pass away and that encompasses all places and all times. He is the King of a thousand ages past, the King of all the future, and the King of each of us! And here we are led to that final difference in the Kingship of Christ, and arguably the most difficult: service.

Bl. Miguel Pro - Viva Cristo Rey!
A king had the authority to have anything he desired – food, property, wives, possessions. But Christ the King comes as a servant and slave to all. Just days before His victory over death and sin, He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Where most men would enter on noble animals and great beasts to show their greatness and power, Christ came on a humble donkey, despite the fact that He Himself had more authority than any other. Moreover, His entire goal in coming was to testify to the Truth, essentially to draw people to Himself, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He calls us to draw close to Him not only for this short time on Earth, but also for the whole of eternity. And He draws us closer, day by day, by His grace poured out for us on the Cross and by the gift of the Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist. What a humble servant we have in our great and glorious king! Indeed, He is the King of the Universe! May He reign forever in our world! May He reign forever in our hearts! 

For your listening pleasure, here are two of my favorite versions of Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat! (Christ Conquers! Christ Reigns! Christ Commands!)

***The song has many variations, but HERE is one translation to help give more understanding.***

And for a little humor...