By Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk
The first reading discloses that Daniel saw a vision of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven to the one of great age. In the second reading from the Apocalypse of John, we are presented with Christ, the first-born from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. John maintains that he made us a line of kings and priests to serve God his father. The gospel reading recounts how Jesus dared Pilate by emphatically stating: “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this…” We are challenged to let God dominate our faculties even as we publicly declare him King and Lord over all.
Beloved in Christ, another Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is here again. Also known as thirty-fourth Sunday of the Year or last Sunday of the year, this celebration calls us to reappraise the Lord’s kingship and rulership over our lives even as it assures of our eternal destiny with the King in the kingdom of light and peace.
Although the celebration of Christ the King first took place in 1926, Pope Pius XI instituted the feast in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primas. The celebration emerged in the midst of the rise of Communism in Russia and during the 16th centenary of the Council of Nicaea (325) as an aftermath of the First World War. It was initiated as a response to the rise of secularization, atheism and communism.
Despite its Catholic origins, this solemnity is also celebrated by many Protestants such as Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians. The celebration was moved to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time in 1970. We shall relish the fruits of this august event in the light of appropriate pastoral lessons.
Background & Summary of the Readings
The first reading (Daniel 7:13-14) discloses that Daniel saw a vision of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven to the one of great age. It also reveals that the one with great age conferred on him sovereignty, glory and kingship stressing that people from all nations and languages are his subjects. It surmised that his sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which can neither be destroyed, nor cease to exist.
In the second reading (Rev. 1:5-8) from the Apocalypse of John, we are presented with Christ, the first-born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth as one who loves us and washes away our sins through his blood. John maintains that he made us a line of kings and priests to serve God his father noting that he is coming in the clouds where everybody will see him. Apostle John concludes that all the races of the earth would mourn him even as he makes the point that he is the Alpha and Omega, “The Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The gospel reading (Jn. 18:33b-37) recounts how Jesus dared Pilate by emphatically stating: “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: To bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” Earlier, Jesus had said that his kingdom is not of this world otherwise, his men would have fought to defend him from being handed over to the Jews.
- Be Subject to Christ’s Dominion with Your Faculties: The solemnity was instituted “to facilitate our becoming subject to Christ’s dominion without exempting any of our faculties since his power embraces all peoples.” As such, as subjects of the kingdom as indicated in the first reading, we are challenged to use our faculties to embrace the love of Christ by expanding our perspective of God as one who redeems.
- Let God Reign in Our Minds: The celebration was initiated “To let him reign in our minds, which must assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths, and to the doctrines of Christ” Therefore, since the second reading reminds us that God has made us Priests and Kings to serve our God, we are charged to set our minds on the things that are in heaven (Col. 3:1-4).
- Let God Reign in Our Wills: The feast was begun “to let Christ reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God.” The message of the gospel that we are charged to bear witness to the truth in imitation of Christ further challenges us to please God with our wills in a way that we would do good and remain faithful.
- Let God Reign in Our Hearts: The event was debuted “to let him reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires, and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.” Bearing in mind that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth flows” (Mat.12:34), we are charged to use today’s celebration to preoccupy our hearts with lofty and holy thoughts by always gazing on God.
- Let God Reign in Our Bodies: The celebration came about “to let him reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for interior sanctification of our souls, or instruments of justice” unto God as Saint Paul would say. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As such, we are charged to seek the reign of God in our bodies by offering our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-5) unto the King (God).
- The first reading discloses that Daniel saw a vision of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven to the one of great age.
- In the second reading from the Apocalypse of John, we are presented with Christ, the first-born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth.
- John maintains that he made us a line of kings and priests to serve God his father.
- The gospel reading recounts how Jesus dared Pilate by emphatically stating: “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this…”
- Jesus had said that his kingdom is not of this world otherwise, his men would have fought to defend him.
The celebration of Christ the King reminds us about St. Augustine’s popular phrase in his seminal book, The City of God namely, city of God and city of Men. The implication of this thesis is that while God controls the affairs of men in both heaven and earth, human beings are sadly preoccupied with mundane interests as though they created themselves.
The lesson is clear – This event calls us to relive our baptismal commitment by embracing God’s kingship over our lives as sons and daughters who share in the priestly, kingly and prophetic mission of Christ. May today’s Eucharistic adoration, procession and joyous chants enrich our faith both now and forever. Have a blessed celebration!
Readings: Daniel 7:13-14; Ps 93:1ab.1b-2.5; Rev. 1:5-8; Gospel – Jn. 18:33b-37.