The Feast of Christ the King – Cycle C
24 November 2019
Deacon Les Ruhrmund
The feast of ‘Christ the King’ was introduced into the liturgical calendar by Pope Pius XI in 1925 following the First World War at a time of growing nationalism, communism, secularism and atheism in Europe.
Popular thinking at that time was that Christians must keep their religious believes and practices to themselves and give their highest allegiance to the state. The pope was insisting that the church had a right to freedom and immunity from the state, that leaders of nations must give respect to Christ and that the faithful must let Christ reign in every part of their lives – at home, at work, at play, socially and politically; everywhere.
The reign of Christ the King has no borders.
Pope Saint Paul VI expanded the name of the feast to “King of the Universe” in 1969 to emphasise that Christ is not just a King of Hearts, a teacher, a guide or comforter for humanity but that God encompasses all of reality, not just our human reality.
St Paul in the 2nd reading today taken from the opening chapter of his letter to the Colossians says that “In (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; all things were created through him and for him.”
We repeat very similar words when we say the Nicene Creed “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible ……. Through him all things were made.”
Jesus is the source of all reality. He is the source of all creation. That includes all the planets, stars, black holes and galaxies in the darkest reaches of space and the evolution of life and all species that come together to make our perfect planet.
He is the source of everything.
Sometimes our faith in creation is challenged by new discoveries in science but I think science serves not to prove our faith redundant but rather reveals further the unimaginable immensity, wonder and mystery of God.
It’s impossible to explain music, laughter, morals, language, and even religion purely through science. While science takes things apart to see how they work, religion puts them together to see what they mean.
I’m reading Bill Bryson’s recently published book “The Body: A guide for Occupants” which I’m finding both entertaining and absolutely fascinating. The book illustrates the almost incomprehensible complexity of our bodies and also clearly brings into question the nonsensical idea that the body is a product of its own making and design; the bottom up philosophy expounded by atheists.
He writes “According to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s calculations (as part of the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival) fifty-nine elements are needed to construct a human being.”
“Unquestionably the most astounding thing about us is that we are a collection of inert components, the same stuff you would find in a pile of dirt. The only thing special about the elements that make you is that they make you. That is the miracle of life.”
The transition from being a lifeless element to being a living organism is beyond the power of science.
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe marks the end of the liturgical year.
Next week we start Advent in Year A in our three year cycle and today’s feast brings together everything that we have celebrated in the year past; Christmas, Easter and Pentecost all come together at the foot of the throne of the King of the Universe – the Cross.
Jesus, alone, abandoned, naked, pinned to the cross, people making fun of him, bleeding and dying………This is the King of Kings, God from God, Light from Light.
Looking at the Cross we realise that our notion of kingship has little to do with the kingship revealed by Jesus.
In the Gospel reading today the Jewish authorities scoffed at Jesus on the cross and challenged him to save himself. The soldiers who had crucified him mocked Jesus and taunted him to save himself. One of the criminals hanging next to him railed at him to save himself.
In our world if we have enough money, or influence, or connections we can save ourselves from just about any situation. The King of Kings, the very source of life, gives up his life to save us – out of love.
Jesus reveals to us what it means to be part of his kingdom and he shows us how to exercise our power and our kingship as anointed and sent disciples.
We are made in the image of God meant to rule the world with God’s purposes – compassion, healing, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, justice, generosity and mercy.
The power that is the source of all creation, the power that holds everything together, is the power of self-giving love.
If we want to experience that power, we need to spend less time trying to save ourselves and more time saving others; stop focusing exclusively on our own needs and focus on the needy.
If we want to live in the power that makes and holds the universe together, we need only reach out and touch someone with a simple act of love.