This weekend, the last Sunday of the Church’s year, is the feast of Christ the King. Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925. Today is our opportunity to reflect on how Christ is King for us.
The king is one who reigns, who rules and who governs. The king is the one who serves the people. We know that Christ does not reign by force and fear. As we read into today’s Gospel Christ rules from a tree, a gibbet, a means of death, the cross. It is when he is weakest that he conquers sin, selfishness, death and brings life to all. We rely on power and prestige to gain influence and make things happen. Jesus wants you and I to stand with him around the Cross while the scoffers, soldiers and jeering, mocking crowd slink away, leaving the faithful few to keep watch. We pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”. This is the way that the reign of Christ as king is to take root in our lives and hearts. It is the way of sacrifice and weakness, it is the way of self-giving love. We don’t honour Christ as King by waving banners or just by proclaiming him. We bring about the reign of Christ through our commitment to working for justice, for the support of the poor and marginalised.
As a newly ordained priest I remember celebrating Mass in a community hall on the Haygate Estate at the Elephant and Castle on the Feast of Christ the King. It was for a group of young people who belonged to a movement called Young Christian Workers. It was founded by a priest, Joseph Cardijn who was concerned about the demoralisation of young people when they left school to go to work. It is a movement to help young people, through a See-Judge-Act method, to see their lives in the light of Catholic Social teaching and the Gospel. This was their way of bringing God’s reign in their lives and the lives of others. Through their lives filled with the vision of the gospel they were able to bring about God’s kingdom in the workplace. The feast of Christ the King is also National Youth Sunday. The theme is “Significance”. In the Pope’s letter to young people and the entire people of God (Christus Vivit) we read the words “For God, you have worth; you are not insignificant. You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands. That is why he is concerned about you and looks to you with affection.”
The Pope reminds us that Christ the King, out of love, sacrificed himself completely to save us. Knowing this love and in his power and filled with his spirit, we work for the bringing about the reign of Christ on this earth, we pray that his kingdom comes: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.