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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Feast of Christ the King

Feastday: October 28

Recognize this picture? ;)

The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man's thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.

Today's Mass establishes the titles for Christ's royalty over men: 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe, and, hence, wields a supreme power over all things; "All things were created by Him"; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, "holding in all things the primacy"; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion.

Today's Mass also describes the qualities of Christ's kingdom. This kingdom is: 1) supreme, extending not only to all people, but also to their princes and kings; 2) universal, extending to all nations and to all places; 3) eternal, for "The Lord shall sit a King forever"; 4) spiritual, Christ's "kingdom is not of this world".
­ Rt. Rev. Msgr. Rudolph G. Bandas

The Feast of Christ the King

Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe, the King of all creation, of all things seen and unseen. Let that thought just sit in your mind. Just take it in and meditate on that statement - Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. And even though His dominion is the universe, He cares for each of us with a love inconceivable. This love was displayed on the Cross and it continues to be renewed each and every moment that the bread and wine at Mass become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. As Mother Teresa said, "When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now."

In the traditional Gospel passage (1962 Missal) for the Feast of Christ the King (i.e. John 18:33-37), Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is taken before Pilate. And Pilate does not recognize Him as King. Instead he asks Jesus "Are you the King of the Jews?" And Jesus, who humbled Himself even unto death, does not call on the legions of angels ready to help Him. Instead He exclaims, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." I have frequently thought about that verse. No matter how bad life in our current nations and kingdoms gets, I realize that one day I shall enter Jesus Christ's everlasting Kingdom - the kingdom not of this world.

The Israelites, God's chosen people, were given a king over 3,000 years ago. And the Lord warned them that if they were give an earthly king, there would be a grave list of problems. But the Israelites demanded one. They didn't just want the Lord God as King, they wanted an earthly one. So Saul was anointed with holy Chrism oil, and from that day, Israel suffered many problems.

Until at last the King of kings, Jesus Christ, came into the midst of the Jewish leaders. But they didn't know Him. Their very creator was not recognized by them. And so they cried out, "We have no king but Ceasar" (John 19:15). What a lie! The Jewish leaders absolutely hated Ceasar and the Roman occupation. They historically despised Caesar. But, they could not carry out an execution without Rome. So they swallow their pride here and exclaimed their king was Ceasar. Now it should be clear how much the Jewish leaders hated Christ - they would rather honor Caesar, who they hated. And the Jewish leaders convinced the crowd to join them, and all of them called out "Crucify Him". What pain must have radiated in the heart of Our Savior as His people rejected Him. They subjected their true king, Jesus Christ, to the worst form of execution at that time, reserved for only the most wretched criminals - crucifixion.

And as the King of Glory mounted His Cross with a crown of thorns, He redeemed the world. And as He hung on that tree, two criminals were crucified with Him - one on his right and one on his left. And one them mocked Jesus. But the other one, obviously a man put to death for his grave sins, begged for mercy. He looked at Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). That thief repented and acknowledged Christ's kingship (this repentant thief is called St. Dismas in the Church’s traditions). And the Lord replies to Him: "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Remember the thief had a "death bed" conversion. He couldn't do any "works" throughout his life for Jesus Christ. Instead, he could only confess Jesus Christ as King. And that confession was a work in and of itself. Remember the words of St. James: “For just as a Body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

Let us clean our souls in Confession and receive the Eucharist in joy. May Christ the King reign in all of us. For His dominion is not just of the earth, sky, and cosmos. His dominion is also in our souls.

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