Today, Christ the King Sunday, I attended my first Mass at the local Catholic Church where I’m taking RCIA classes. It’s a beautiful day, though rainy, and I so enjoyed the Mass and then a pleasant walk afterward.
I’d never known of Christ the King Sunday before now (don’t recall that we celebrated it in the Anglican church I attended growing up), and I’m surprised to learn that it’s fairly new, Pope Pius XI having instituted this Feast Day in 1925. Beautiful celebration! Father reminded us in the homily of how the idea of power and Ruler was changed by Christ our Lord, as put forth in this Gospel message:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 42-45
Rather shocking words, when you think of it. A slave to all. I read recently that when the Bible was first translated into English, they substituted the word “servant” for every instance of “slave” (Greek doulos), because at the time England was going through the process of outlawing slavery. But the meaning is slave. We were purchased out of sin by Christ’s blood, and are now owned by him, he is our Master and we serve him, and are to serve each other in Christ. Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorites, and illustrates this.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. …Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25: 34-36, 40
Christ the King! It is good to be reminded of his Kingship, as it can be discouraging to look at the evil of this world, the horrible things people do to each other and to this good Earth that God has given us. And then it is easy to forget that Christ is already Victor, already King, the victory over sin and evil and death has already been won! The only thing left to do is to acknowledge his Kingship and give up one’s own will to his rule. As Pope Pius XI said in the encyclical Quas Primas, establishing the Feast Day of Christ the King:
If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.
This gives me such joy, to realize our King has already won the war! And I only pray that I can serve him by giving aid to the wounded on the battlefield.
Please enjoy this beautiful video of the hymn Te Saeculorum Principem, traditionally sung on Christ the King Sunday: