22 November 2020: Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 

by FR. Emmanuel, Pastor

“Christ the King stretches out his hand
to request our own hearts, …”

Today, on the last Sunday of this Liturgical Year, we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King.  We pray in today’s preface: “you anointed Jesus Christ, your only Son, with the oil of gladness, as the eternal priest and universal king.”  It was Pope Pius XI, in 1925, through his encyclical Quas Primas, established the feast of Christ the King.  In that encyclical Pope Pius reminds us to reflect on the words Jesus said to his disciples who were coveting positions of power: “that those who are rulers over the Gentiles make their authority over them felt. But it is not so among you.  Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.  Again Jesus tells them that he himself “did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for all” (Mk 10:35-45).  He invites everyone to His Kingdom: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:28-29).

In the Old Testament we find many kings. Before Israel’s division Saul, David and Solomon ruled the nation. After the division Israel had 19 kings and Judah had 20 kings. In most of the messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a king.

In the New testament we see Jesus as the king:  In the Annunciation recorded in Lk.1/32-33 we read: “The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever and His kingdom will never end.”   b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.”   c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the people shouted: (Lk.19: 38) “God bless the king, who comes in the name of the Lord.”   d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel Pilate asked the question:  (Jn.18: 33):  “Are you the king of the Jews?”    Jesus replied:   “You say that I am a king.  I was born and came into this world for this one purpose.”   e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read:  “Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews.”   f) Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt. 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”   g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

A unique king with a unique kingdom,  The cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount is his rule of law.  Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.   Jesus desires to establish that kingdom in our Hearts.   The Kingdom of God is the central teaching of Jesus throughout the Gospels.  Jesus begins His public ministry by preaching the kingdom.  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:14). In Christ’s kingdom, “we are all a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”   The Church helps us to establish Christ’s kingdom in our hearts, thus allowing us to participate in God’s inner life.

Citizens of Christ’s kingdom are expected to observe only one major law–the law of love.   “Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  “Love one another as I have loved you.”   His love is selfless, sacrificial, kind, compassionate, forgiving and unconditional.  We cannot remain in His kingdom  if we do not listen to Him, love Him, serve Him, and follow Him. He must be in charge of our lives, that we must give Him sovereign power over our body and soul, over our thoughts, our heart and our will.  The one who seeks to live in His kingdom is the one who sincerely says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”   He is not our King if we do not listen to Him, love Him, serve Him, and follow Him. We belong to His Kingdom   only when we try to walk with Him, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel.  Then He will liberate us from all types of bondages, enabling us to live peacefully and happily on earth, and to receive an inheritance in the eternal life of heaven.

In today’s Gospel we heard the parable about the separation of sheep from goats in the Last Judgment.  In this parable we hear six questions from Jesus.   We need to be prepared to answer “Yes” to the king’s six questions: Jesus reminds us to get ready to answer “yes” to his six questions based on our corporal and spiritual acts of charity.  “I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick, imprisoned; did you help Me?”  We are reminded that when we care for the hungry, thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, we are actually taking care of Jesus who lives behind the faces of these people.

Christ on the Cross, crowned with thorns, is our image of kingdom—life lived for others, even unto death. With his outstretched hands he is ready to embrace each one of us and once we are under the shadow of those outstretched hands we will have new life and we are always safe.  Christ the King stretches out his hand to request our own hearts, so that together we can establish the Kingdom of God:  Let us offer to Him our hearts and all what we have.  With that good thief on the right side of Jesus let us pray, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” and we will be able to hear the most consoling and forgiving words of Jesus  “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  

May God bless you!