Our Church year culminates in this beautiful Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, always celebrated on this, the last Sunday of our liturgical year. (I personally find it very hard to believe that Advent is already next week!) The placement of this feast of Christ the King has moved over the years, but since the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, we have been celebrating it on the final Sunday of Ordinary Time—significant, because in the closing moments of the liturgical year, we find ourselves contemplating this reality: that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly King of all that has ever existed and all that ever will exist.
While this is certainly true now, we struggle sometimes to experience the true sovereignty of Jesus, especially in our fallen world, marred as it is by the effects of sin. In a sense, what we celebrate is the “already but not yet” of the Kingdom of God—the reality that we possess the Kingdom of God among us even now, but look forward to its fulfillment when Christ comes again to conquer the reign of sin in a final way. As we stand upon the cusp of a new liturgical year, then, we reflect upon the ways in which Christ has already shown us His power and majesty up to this moment (in our lives and in the whole of human history), and we look forward in hope to the ways in which Christ will reign supreme over all, bringing us the markers of His Kingdom: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 14:17).
As we’ve just come off our celebrations of Thanksgiving, the timing of our celebration of Christ the King is very well placed. On the cusp of Advent (thinking of the gift of Christ’s coming), having just reflected on the copious gifts of God in our lives and the lives of our families, we are well-poised to celebrate the Kingship of Jesus—that He is our true ruler and guide. And we contemplate the ways in which we can more deeply accept the kingly rule of Jesus in our own hearts by letting Him be Lord of every part of our lives!
In our world, it can be hard to see the evidence of God’s sovereignty. We struggle personally with the loss of loved ones, with economic struggles in our community and nation, with illness or the burden of family difficulties; we see the state of our government or the issues that arise in the Church, or we look upon the ravages of war in different parts of the world…and we can think, “if Christ is King, then where is the evidence of it?” Well, Christ does indeed reign! But the world only bears it out in as much as we let Him reign for us, here and now. The world is only marked by the peace of God’s kingdom inasmuch as we let Christ conquer our hearts with His peace. It starts with you and me.
May this Solemnity of Christ the King be for us an opportunity to reflect on the ways that Christ already reigns in us and among us—and then spur us on to allow His Kingdom to unfold among us yet more every day, through our love and service in the world.
Keep spreading joy!