Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christ the King

The last Sunday in Ordinary Time is coming up when the Church ends Her liturgical year by reflecting on Jesus Christ, the Universal King. Honoring Jesus as a king may be strange to us, who live in a democratic republic. The idea is simple: while we respect our civil government and elected officials and love our country, we need to understand that all earthly power has it’s source in God and it is His rule which is supreme.

Christ the King was an ancient feast that had not been celebrated for many centuries when, in 1925, Pope Pius XI “read the signs of the times” and decided to revive this observance. The 1920’s was a time when fascist dictatorships had taken power in Italy and Japan, and a still small Nazi movement was growing in Germany. Russia had experienced a communist revolution and it’s constitution declared that the new Soviet state was officially atheist. The Church was being persecuted in Mexico by a government that claimed supremacy over all aspects of the people’s lives. While these movements were motivated by different ideologies, the one thing that they all had in common was the belief that the civil government was the highest authority on earth. All other loyalty, be it with family or with God, came second, if at all. If faced with a civil law that went against the Law of God the people were to follow the government.

The Feast of Christ the King teaches us that there is a higher law than the human law. All civil authority has its source in God and must respect God’s law. There should be no conflict between the human laws and God’s commandments. When there are we have the right disobey these unjust laws, understanding that with disobedience often comes consequences. Blessed Miguel Pro broke the laws of his time when he celebrated the Mass and heard confessions, and was put to death for it. His and the sacrifices of other martyrs were not without effect. Today the faith is flourishing in Mexico as the Eucharist is celebrated openly.

Today there are many challenges to our honoring God above all things. Laws concerning marriage and the sanctity of human life that contradict the divine law are two examples. Economic conditions that force people to choose between working on Sundays to support their families and going to Church to celebrate the Eucharist is another. Consumerism can make us slaves to fashion and the acquiring of things, making our car, house or TV our “God.” Let this feast be a reminder for us that Jesus Christ is our only lasting possession. He is our salvation, our Way, Truth and Life. He is King of our hearts and the entire universe.

1 comment: