Solemnity of Christ the King

11-20-2022Weekly Reflection

O Teacher, Priest, and Lawgiver, You display this title on your garment marked with blood: Lord of lords, and most high King of kings.

O Christ peace-bringing Prince, subdue rebellious wills, by Your love gather into one fold those who have gone astray.

We confess, O Christ, that You are the King of the ages, You are the nations’ King, You are the sole ruler of minds and hearts.

While his encyclical letter, Quas Primas, On Christ the King was addressed to Catholic bishops, Pope Pius XI wanted the feast of Christ the King to encourage the laity: The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. 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. Quas primas, §33

The foundation of the social kingship of Christ is His Incarnation. The Word made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is king over all earthly kingdoms from the moment of His Incarnation. This is evident that from the moment God the Son took a human nature, and is invested with a sovereign empire over all that exists because He is God made Flesh. It is precisely in conversation with Pilate that Jesus reveals the true nature of his kingship. He only wants to reign over minds and hearts to sanctify them and lead them to heaven. I am a king, Jesus said to the procurator, for this purpose I was born, and for this purpose I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth"(John 18:37). The dissemination of truth in its religious form, which is the highest and most perfect, is therefore the aim of his kingdom and his incarnation. This empire of truth over souls must lead to faith and through faith to the salvation that Jesus' death merited for us. The universal social reign of Jesus-Messiah was heralded long before his coming. The Old Testament prophets speak to us of the social kingship of the future Messiah over all the peoples to whom he will give his laws. Daniel says: "I was therefore observing in the night vision, and behold with the clouds of heaven coming like the Son of man, and he advanced to the ancient days [...] And he gave him power, honor, and kingdom; and all peoples, kindreds, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power, it shall not be taken away from him, and his kingdom is incorruptible.” (Dan. 7:13-14 ).-Psalm two presents the Messiah as a person distinct from the Father: "The Lord said to me: You are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as a possession, and the ends of the earth as your dominion." world." (Ps 2:7-9) In the New Testament: The angel Gabriel tells the Blessed Virgin in Luke 1: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

St. Paul affirms to the Philippians (2,5 ff.) that Christ has universal kingship by right of inheritance, by virtue of his being equal to God, and by right of conquest: "becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. For this reason God exalted him and gave him the name which is above every other name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth; and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Christ the King's authority over all men and society derives primarily from a birthright. Faith enables us to recognize two natures in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the God-Man. All is subject to the royalty of the adorable Trinity. The "most rebellious beings cannot escape you". Whoever escapes his law of love immediately falls under his law of justice. The head of regenerated humanity, Jesus, is of flesh and blood, has the most beautiful heart, which he wants to reign in hearts, families and societies for their true good. To defend his rights and vindicate his kingdom in the minds and hearts of men, God became man. Whoever wants to escape Christ's kingship must therefore deny his divinity. Cunning and proud men who try to escape the sovereignty of Christ, who is declare him a mere good man, a wise man, a spiritual teacher, a reformer. This leads to absurdity and contradiction: Christ cannot be a mere good man, since he claimed to be God. He is only a good man if he is the good God. Were it not what he said and proved to be, he would only deserve our contempt, as a madman or a liar, a charlatan and a deceiver of humanity.

It is impossible to remain neutral towards Christ. There is no middle ground: either one denies his divinity or one must recognize him, as the God-Man, as King of all that exists, of civil societies, of families and of the individual. "Only Christ decides within what limits he wants to confine the exercise of his authority; but this authority cannot be limited without abdicating his divinity. Pius XI reminds us of this in his encyclical, that "only insofar as he is a Man can it be said that he has received power, honor and kingdom from the Father, because as the Word of God, being of the same substance as the Father, he cannot fail to have in common with the Father what is proper to the divinity, and consequently He created all things and has the highest and most absolute dominion." Sovereignty is not only due to him, but giving it up would mean breaking the essential ties that unite him to us, because he declares "I am king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world" (John 18:37). By divinizing our human nature formed by Mary, He has contracted closer ties with us than with any other creature, he is "in a manner more sacred, the head of mankind, the new Adam, the goal of all God's designs for our human race, the rule of all our progress, and the crux of all our destinies." It would be to ascribe an absurdity to Divine Wisdom to think that God became man to become a mere accessory of humanity. "What is sweeter and more beautiful than thinking that Christ reigns over us not only by right of nature, but also by right of conquest, by virtue of the Redemption?" The prince of the apostles reminds us: "You were not redeemed with corruptible gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, the blood of a lamb without spot or blemish" (1 Peter 1:18-19). In Jesus the Eternal Father "has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins". (Col 1,13-14) To underline the universality of the Redeemer's dominion, Pope Pius XI likes to quote Leo XIII, who said: “The empire of Christ does not extend only to Catholic peoples, or to those who, regenerated in the baptismal font, belong, strictly speaking, to the Church, although erroneous opinions distance them from us or dissent divides them from charity; but it also embraces those without Christian faith, so that all mankind is under the power of Jesus Christ.”

This universal kingship of Christ is essentially constituted by the triple legislative, judicial and executive power. The great Dominican theologian, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, gives us these details: "The excellence of Christ's spiritual and temporal kingship is that of the Supreme authority, which leads all souls of good will to eternal bliss. It is the authority of the Son of God who has power not only over all bodies, but also over all souls, not only over peoples, but also over all kings or other heads of state, and he himself is subject to none other than his Father. It is the authority of the highest intellect, the most loving heart, the most righteous, benevolent and strong will. It implies the power of the legislator and the supreme judge. Father Garrigou-Lagrange continues his reasoning thus: "This supreme authority is therefore universal; it extends to all places, to all times, to all creatures, because Jesus commands even the angels, who are the ministers of his kingdom. In the law now "all things are subject to him "; indeed, at his second advent all things will be subject to him, on earth as in heaven. Neutrality is not possible in relation to him: "Whoever is not with me is against me." One cannot remain neutral with respect to the ultimate goal of every life; not wanting it means getting away from it. It is towards this ultimate end that the universal kingship of Jesus orders all things: "He is the way, the truth and the life". He leads souls to eternal bliss, where they will be able to enjoy God seen face to face and loved above all else, with the absolute certainty of never losing him to sin. In this the infinite goodness of our King is manifested, but a goodness that is not weakness. The kings of the earth seek to obtain temporal goods for their people by imperfect and often powerless means. Christ, on the other hand, effectively leads us towards the ultimate supernatural end, towards bliss that never ends. The Cardinal Pie, the illustrious successor of Saint Hilary and Bishop of Poitiers, points out: "Listen to the last words that our Lord addresses to his apostles, before ascending to heaven: 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and teach all nations'.

Note, brothers, that Jesus Christ does not say all men, all individuals, all families, but all nations. It does not limit itself to saying: Baptize children, catechize adults, marry spouses, administer the sacraments, give religious burial to the dead. Undoubtedly, the mission that He entrusts to them includes all of this, but includes much more, it has a public, social character, because Jesus Christ is the King of peoples and nations. And as God sent prophets to the nations and their leaders to rebuke them for their apostasies and of their crimes, thus Christ sends his apostles and his priesthood to peoples, empires, rulers and legislators, to teach all his doctrine and his law. Their task, like that of St. Paul, is to bear the name of Jesus Christ. The Christian is a public and social person par excellence. As the name Catholic indicates, the Christian is part of a mission embracing the whole world. If two powers are to be distinguished, temporal and spiritual, each must play its part; the temporal must be in the service of the spiritual, as the body is in relation to the soul. To be welcomed into the heavenly Jerusalem, our true homeland, towards which the Good Shepherd seeks to guide every soul, we must already be fellow citizens of the blessed in heaven. Faced with a world in rebellion, which cries out: "We do not want this one to reign over us.” We will fight with the Mexican Cristeros, with every fiber of our being, and of our individual and family life we will cry out: Viva Cristo Rey!