This feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
It wasn’t an idea that just came out of the blue.
The Holy Father was reflecting deeply on the trends of his time.
This was the time in which communism had taken power in Russia
and was threatening Europe;
Mussolini and his Fascist party had been in power in Italy
for several years; and two years before,
Hitler had tried the first time to seize power in Germany,
and had published his manifesto for Nazism.
The pope knew the times, and knew that the world
needed to be reminded: Jesus Christ is the only rightful king!
Pope Pius said the following when he declared this feast:
…manifold evils in the world
were due to the fact that the majority of men
had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives;
that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics:
and…as long as individuals and states refused to submit
to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect
of a lasting peace among nations.
Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.
It’s just as true today as nearly 100 years ago.
Now, let’s think about what it means to proclaim
Jesus Christ the sole, rightful king of this world.
Again, Pope Pius said that this concerns the spiritual life.
But his authority is not limited to that. Let’s be very clear:
every government, every official, every society, without exception,
is subject to the reign of Jesus Christ!
We can understand political figures, who are not Christian,
not recognizing this.
They do not realize Jesus is the Lord and we pray that,
through our faithful and loving witness,
they will come to know Jesus is Lord.
But then we have people who profess to be Christians,
who seek public authority, who seek to exercise power,
and yet they claim that they will not let
Jesus Christ and his teaching influence them.
Pope Pius taught that they are in “grave error”
to think that “Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs.”
Let’s take this another step, however.
In our country, the real rulers
aren’t the President and Congress, governor and legislators and judges;
“we the people” are sovereign.
We choose who makes the laws, and we can replace them.
So Pope Pius’ words are really directed to us.
And that means, it seems to me, that each and every Catholic
has a grave duty—a grave duty, I repeat—to do the following things:
1) To be well informed as we reasonably can, as citizens.
2) To be registered to vote, and to then to cast our votes at every election.
3) To cast our votes at all times in a way consistent with Christ’s Law.
We will often complain about
how our judges and elected officials do not protect the unborn,
and do not stand up for true marriage—
meaning between a man and a woman.
But who gave them the power?
President Obama is militantly pro-legal abortion –
yet he was elected with the help of millions of Catholics.
And, lest you think I am being partisan, let me point out:
the last time the Supreme Court upheld abortion-on-demand, in 1992,
the five justices who did that were all Republican appointees.
And in the upcoming election, there are candidates
who say they are willing to use torture,
and to treat some groups as second-class citizens.
Let us be very careful not to give our endorsement
to any of these grave offenses to human dignity.
When Catholics leave their faith outside the voting booth,
they are pushing King Jesus outside the voting booth!
Some will say, but look what Jesus said to Pilate:
“my kingdom is not of this world.”
That’s true: his kingdom does not originate in this world,
because it originates in heaven.
No one makes Jesus king; he is God.
But if he did not seek to bring his Kingdom into this world,
for what reason did he even come?
When people say that Jesus’ kingship is only about heaven, be careful –
what you are saying, without realizing it,
is that we don’t have any reason to seek justice or compassion
in this world, but only in the world to come!
But we know Jesus himself said no such thing.
On the contrary: when we stand before him,
on the Last Day, he will separate to both sides of him,
those who showed mercy, and worked for justice,
and those who did not.
When his Kingdom will come is up to him;
our part is to be faithful messengers and citizens of his kingdom,
each day of our lives.
We might ask: even if Jesus is not allowed to be king of our country,
then where do you and I allow him to be king?
Do I let him reign over my thoughts?
Or, do I let bigotry and vengeance find place in my mind and heart?
For that matter, if Jesus is king in our hearts,
how can worry and fear find a place there?
Does Jesus govern my hands? Or do they sometimes strike in anger?
Does Jesus control my tongue? Lord, have mercy!
Is Jesus king over our computers and our TVs?
Or are there places we go online that dishonor him and his creation?
If we claim Jesus is king over our lives,
one proof of that is how willing we are to bring our lives to him
in the sacrament of confession.
You and I cannot make our society recognize Jesus as king,
but what about our own homes and our families?
What about the priorities of our time and money?
These things we can surrender to Jesus Christ, our sovereign king.
And to quote Pope Pius a final time:
“When once [we] recognize, both in private and in public life,
that Christ is King, society will at last receive
the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline,
peace and harmony.”