Gospel Commentary by Fr. Joseph Rampino | Solemnity of Christ the King
Our True King
It is a great joy to be able to write to you as we together bring our Church year to a close with the powerful feast of Christ the King, Lord of the Universe. Before the Church draws us into the new year with the mysteries of Advent and the contemplation of Jesus’ birth, she sends off the year with a vision of the triumph that awaits the Christian people at the end of all things, when Our Lord will be revealed in all his glory, and will rule over everything that exists, in heaven and on earth. What a tremendously consoling feast!
What does it mean though for us to say that Christ is King, and Lord of the Universe? In what way is He King? Is He only our King in the future? What does His Kingship mean for us right now?
The first thing we can say is that Christ is already King of all reality right now, even long before the day His full glory is revealed. As Christians we believe that reality is a monarchy, not a democracy. Democracies are one of the modes for interaction between human beings that God has permitted while we live in time, but they do not correspond to the nature of things as they are at their heart. No matter who rules over us or governs us in the human order, our only master, as Christians, is the God who created us, who knows us, and who loves us. We owe respect to civil authorities because Christ Himself commanded us to render to Caesar what is his, but all human power is merely permitted by God while He is about the business of drawing souls towards Himself.
This, of course, is why Christ does not rule over us more directly and obviously for the moment. He is a loving God who would rather have us as adopted members of his family than as slaves and subjects, so He does not dominate or oppress us. Rather, He gently calls to our souls and invites us with gifts and messages of love, calming our fears, meeting our needs, healing our wounds, even enduring our indifference to Him, or worse, the insults we can sometimes give Him in exchange for his love. Christ is a true King, not a tyrant, which means that not only will He not enforce His rule while there are hearts to be won, but also that His reign over us is in fact what is best for us in every way. In the end, when the time of decision is past, and every soul has chosen either to live for Christ’s gentle kingdom or against it, His rule will be revealed to everyone, and all earthly powers will pass away, either casting down their borrowed authority willingly, as friends of the true King, or having it stripped from them by force. On that day, there will be no more human rulers, but only the Our Lord, and at long last, peace will rest over every people and nation.
What confidence can we not take from the message of this feast? The one who rules over all things loves us, and is on our side. The master of reality wants to make us members of His own family. There is such a thing as perfect justice, and it will have the irrevocable last word. Good wins, no matter what happens in human history.
So while we wait for this to come about, let’s strengthen our hearts in hope. Let’s bring everything in our souls into the Lord’s kingdom now, so that we are ready when His inevitable victory does show itself. We can already live in that beautiful and sure future by conducting ourselves as Jesus’ beloved royal family even now, in our homes, at work, simply by offering our hearts to God without reserve and with all courage. Then the joy of the final state of all things can break into our world today, where it can be a needed source of hope for everyone.