Reflections 24th November 2019

A Reflection for The Feast of Christ the King

Luke 23:  35-43 (

Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’   Jesus responded: ‘You say so’!

The Feast of Christ the King is a relatively recent addition to the liturgical calendar, having only been instituted by Pius XI in 1925. What was it in 1925 that motivated the pope to do so? Political and-social events called his attention. The papal states had been lost, and communism and socialism were growing. Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and Stalin in Russia. So, it was time to declare Christ as universal King and to advise totalitarian states that Jesus was the only sovereign king. Christ is our spiritual king and ruler who rules by truth and love.

The notion of Christ as sovereign king is not really new. According to Cyril of Alexandria (378 A.D.), ‘Christ has dominion over all creatures. All power is given to me. (Matt.28,18)’. 

In 1925 quite a few kings still reigned. Today nearly all of them have disappeared and the attitude of many would be ‘about time’!  We live in a different world, one secularized with different views and attitudes. Where does Christ the King fit in or do we need a new model for the youth of today? Is the ideal of Christ the King still viable? He is still king of the universe but what would Jesus think of being a king?  Entering Jerusalem in Holy Week, he rode on a donkey. Not much of a sign of royalty! He never showed any respect or admiration for King Herod. Quite the opposite!

When crucified, Pilate – as an insult – put over his head an inscription, ‘Jesus, King of the Jews’. So now Christ reigns from the Cross (his throne), his crown a crown of thorns.

Reading the Gospels, we find that Jesus put no emphasis on the importance of ruling. Rather, he emphasized service – serving others. He was a poor itinerant preacher announcing the Kingdom of God. He reminds one of his followers that the birds of the air had nests but that he had nowhere to lay his head. Time and time again, he teaches his apostles about service. He who wants to be first should be the servant of all; in a shocking scene and, to Peter’s horror, he washes the feet of the apostles.

Wherever you have kings, you have princes. Pope Francis has made it clear that today’s Church has no place for princes. Like Jesus, all – bishops, priests, laity – are servants, following the example of Jesus.

John Horan C.S.Sp. – From Co. Tipperary. Fr. John first arrived in Brazil in 1966. He has recently returned to the Diocese of Ji-Paraná in Rondonia where he first served 40 years ago.