Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The Solemnity was instituted by Pope Pius XI in response to the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism in 1925. While the world was increasingly telling Christians that they must compartmentalize their religion and give their highest allegiance to the government, Pope Pius XI responded with the feast.
We may ask ourselves if Jesus deserved to be called a King as we understand the term. Christ’s kingdom is not political, but a spiritual rule of love established in human hearts through service and sacrifice; it belongs to those who hear His voice and bear witness to the truth revealed by Him.
Amidst of all what is happening in the world, we may ask ourselves what should we do? Yes! It’s a valid question. To carry on the mission of Jesus, we are called to be his witness in all circumstances. By the virtue of our baptism, we are Christ-like. In the Rites of Baptism we hear these words as we are anointed with Chrism: “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body sharing everlasting life.”
Back at home (Kenya), we Catholics have a common phrase we use to greet each other: “Christ thy kingdom comes, in our hearts through Mother Mary.” When we talk of a kingdom, then it means there is a king and that is Jesus Christ! The last Sunday of the liturgical calendar of the Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King before the beginning of Advent and the start of a new liturgical year. In Advent, we prepare for the two comings of Christ: as a baby in Bethlehem, and his return as a king in glory. This celebration of Jesus’ kingship prepares us for both comings of Christ.
The gospel today is telling us: “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did unto me.” Feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the ill and those in prisons is easy, but we should go beyond that. Mother Teresa of Calcutta puts it in a way that points to how we can become more caring and loving: “God has identified himself with the hungry, the sick, the naked, the homeless; hunger not only for bread, but for love, for care, to be somebody to someone; nakedness, not for clothing only, but nakedness of that compassion that very few people give to the unknown; homelessness, not only just for a shelter made from stone but for that homelessness that comes from having no one to call your own” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Patrick