Readings: Second Book of Samuel 5:1-3; Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians 1:12-20; Gospel According to Saint Luke 23:35-43
In the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church, this Sunday we celebrate the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, dedicated to Christ the King. Next Sunday a new Liturgical Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent, leading up to Christmas and the celebrations surrounding the mystery of God becoming man that we might share in divine life for eternity.
As Christ is the origin and end of all creation, the Church never tires of worshiping God as our Creator, Redeemer and Advocate, whom we profess as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God and Three Persons. Our God is ever near and always ready to receive glory and honor at all times and everywhere.
“The Lord is King, with majesty enrobed,” proclaims Psalm 93. In our times we are much more familiar with democracies than kingdoms and much more accustomed to a president than a king. In fact we may even think of presidents as more powerful than kings. This is illustrated in a story that goes something like this: A man told his friend many times that he was king of his house. The friend came to visit one day and found the man doing the dishes. “I thought you were king of the house,” said his friend. “I am,” replied the man, “but my wife is the president.”
The most important characteristics of Jesus’ Kingdom include the notions that his Kingdom or Reign is eternal and universal, that it is true and life-giving, bestowing on believers holiness, grace, justice, love and peace. Could there be a more attractive description of the essential elements in our multi-faceted relationship with the living and eternal God?
We must never lose sight of what is promised us in belonging completely to Christ. Furthermore, our life in Christ is not reserved to some future date, but is experienced here and now, though brought to completion and perfection in the life to come. The Lord himself has told us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
It is Christ the King who strengthens the weary, who lifts up those who are falling down or broken. Christ consoles the afflicted, cures the sick and gives food to the hungry. We have to see this help as extending beyond the material and physical, to a deeper reality, rooted in the spiritual and eternal kingdom that will never end.
Of course we all need the daily bread of food and drink in order to survive. For this we labor as well as receive it from others. Even more, though, we need the bread of heaven, the Holy Eucharist, spiritual sustenance, which only God can give. The Solemnity of Christ the King is a way of reminding us of this reality and tries to get our attention focused on that which endures forever. A point will come when we no longer need the food and drink this world offers, but we’ll always need divine assistance.
As we worship our God in this celebration of Christ the King, we recognize our worth as human beings, redeemed in the Blood of Christ who suffered and died on the Cross that we might live, through the power of the Lord’s Resurrection. The Eucharist, Holy Mass, is our Church’s principal means of bestowing the needed grace for us to go to God. We rejoice with holy joy in our call to become for the world signs of God’s goodness and love. God who cannot be outdone in generosity invites to the banquet of the Kingdom.
Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB