Solemnity of Christ the King – 24 November
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea at which the doctrine of the consubstantiality of Christ with the Father was defined. Its eschatological character was confirmed by its move, in the calendar reforms of the Second Vatican Council, to the final Sunday of the liturgical year.
The Pope asserted that the most effective defence against the destructive forces of the age is the recognition of the kingship of Christ; and, furthermore, a feast which is celebrated every year by everyone is a far better way of deploying that defence than any number of books written by learned people. First, we do; then we come to understand what it is that we are doing.
Each of us has been anointed with holy oil at baptism, as priest, prophet and king. The feast of Christ the King is thus a good moment to reflect on our kingship and on what “king” means and how to be one. Understanding the feast makes us understand our own call better.
One possible point of entry is in Genesis, where Adam sits in state and God brings him all the animals for him to give them names. To give names to one’s subjects is the act of a king. The responsibility of a king is then to care for his subjects, which is why we are obliged to act as custodians of creation: something no other creature is. How far that responsibility takes one can then be seen in the King of the Universe, who is simultaneously the ruler of all and the servant of all. He rules in triumph; and he rules from the Cross.
Perhaps a way into a meditation on all this would be to ask, “Over whom am I, personally, king?” and hence “Whom am I called to serve?”