Watching the 'Royal Family'!
It is hard to believe that already we are at the end of the liturgical year. Today, as Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Though this Feast is a new one, promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in his Encyclical Quas Primas, it is a very important one! In designating Christ as the king of the universe, the Church was certainly looking for a good role model in the world that had lost all sense of decency in governance and administration. The world was coming out of a terrible First World War, Communism was sweeping across Russia while fascism controlled Italy, and the Nazi party was on the rise in Germany. Each year, by celebrating the feast of Christ the king, we are reminded afresh of the kingdom of God and its ruler and of the truth that all nations should form themselves in the image of God’s kingdom. Vive Christus Rex!
As we continue in this Year of Faith, we can keep asking ourselves: “What is faith?” It is to hand over ourselves into the hands of another or in our case, of Another! If we look back at history, we may recall that what really incensed King Henry the VIII was people’s refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy to him. They refused to put their lives into his hands, to give up their allegiance to the Pope and the Church. People who refused paid dearly, even with their lives. This had an effect even in Ireland for centuries and it eventually lead to Catholic Emancipation by Daniel O’ Connell in 1829. People always hope for a leader, a monarch that will legislate and support the common good, protect their rights, provide a future of hope and love for their children, defend the poor and the weak and create civil order. This is what creates stability and harmony among peoples. They expect them to live a life which is just and exemplary. To ‘rule’ is to serve. No-one knew how to do this better than our Lord himself.
Today in the Pope’s address after the Angelus, he reminded us that “we are all called to prolong God’s saving work by converting ourselves to the Gospel, by placing ourselves with conviction in the footsteps of that King who came not to be served but to serve and to bear witness to the truth (cf Mk 10.45, Jn 18.37).” Every time we pray the ‘Our Father’, we pray that the Kingdom of God be made manifest on this earth as we prepare to become dwellers in it for eternity.
Last year, on the 29th of April, the eyes of the world were upon Prince William and Kate Middleton as they were married. An estimated two and a half billion people watched the wedding. What was the attraction? Because they are part of the Royal Family...an insane curiosity/obsession to know what certain monarchies are doing every minute of every day? e horse-drawn carriage afterwards was fairy tale-esque and cute and allowed for some fleeting moments of make-believe! Don’t get me wrong, I like this couple and I think that they will make great monarchs some day, bringing their integrity of life and their values to the people.
In the Gospel today, we read: “So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jesus does not deny his regality but reaffirms his mission to lead us all into the truth, a truth which frees us. If we belong to the truth, we listen to Christ, even when what we hear might move us out of our comfort zone. Our own individual lives show that we don’t recognize Jesus as King. What part of you doesn’t recognize the Reign of Christ?
On this day, we pray for the conversion of all to Christ, and for all governments to recognize Him as King and conform their laws to His teachings. This is the only way to peace! Can you imagine how different a world we would have if we followed the law of love and of service? War and hatred would cease, indifference would evaporate because every person would genuinely be concerned about their brother or sister, unconditionally! The reality is, there is only one person who loves us unconditionally: the King of Kings. Who else will stretch out his arms to us to the point where they will be nailed to the cross, out of love! The question is: are we ready to make our oath to Him alone, to hand over our lives and promise our love and fidelity to Him alone? Which ‘royal family’ is more important for you? Jesus our King, his Mother, our Queen who became the dwelling place of the Word made flesh or the monarchies and systems of our land? Who determines your values, your beliefs and your convictions? May Christ the King reign in our hearts!