“He is our king. He desires ardently to rule our hearts, because we are children of God. But we should not try to imagine a human sort of rule — Christ does not dominate or seek to impose himself, because he “has not come to be served but to serve.” His kingdom is one of peace, of joy, of justice. Christ our king does not expect us to spend our time in abstract reasoning; he expects deeds.” – St Josemaria Escriva
Gospel Text: (LK 23:35-43)
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."
The solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. This feast was the Holy Father’s response to the atheistic and totalitarian regimes of his era.
Today’s feast tells us that the kingdom of God is ruled by a desire for every human being to enjoy life fully and in freedom. How did Jesus express these designs of his Father? He did it through parables like the prodigal son, which illustrate the limitless mercy that God has for his children. He did it through parables like the good Samaritan, which calls us to love and serve each other. And he did it by teaching us how to pray and how to live a life of beatitude.
Jesus knew that the best way to teach us the principles and rules of his kingdom was to act them out in person so that he could show us the way and not just tell us about it. His heart was set on seeking and obeying his Father’s wishes—just as ours should be. He was determined to love everyone, even those who opposed him—just as he calls us to do. He prioritized mercy and forgiveness over justice and punishment, and he wants us to do the same.
Pope Pius XI initiated the feast of Christ the King because he wanted every person to know that Jesus is superior to all the other would-be kings of his day: Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s Nazism, Stalin’s Communism, Freud’s psychological determinism, and American materialism. The Holy Father wanted to tell the Church then, and us today, that only Jesus can fill our deepest desires for love, peace, and happiness.
May we all gather under the banner of Jesus Christ, our King. May we live today as true citizens of His kingdom.