The solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. This feast was the Holy Father’s response to the atheistic and totalitarian regimes of his era. While the feast may not be very old, the truth that Jesus Christ is King of all creation is ageless.
Today’s feast tells us that the kingdom of God is ruled by a desire for every human being to enjoy life fully and in freedom. How did Jesus express these designs of his Father? He did it through parables like the prodigal son, which illustrate the limitless mercy that God has for his children. He did it through parables lik the good Samaritan, which calls us to love and serve each other. And he did it by teaching us how to pray and how to live a life of beatitude.
Jesus knew that the best way to teach us the principles and rules of his kingdom was to act them out in person so that he could show us the way and not just tell us about it. His heart was set on seeking and obeying his Father’s wishes—just as ours should be. He was determined to love everyone, even those who opposed him—just as he calls us to do. He prioritized mercy and forgiveness over justice and punishment, and he wants us to do the same.
Pope Pius XI initiated the feast of Christ the King because he wanted every person to know that Jesus is superior to all the other would-be kings of his day: Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s Nazism, Stalin’s Communism, Freud’s psychological determinism, and American materialism. The Holy Father wanted to tell the Church then, and us today, that only Jesus can fill our deepest desires for love, peace, and happiness.
May we all gather under the banner of Jesus Christ, our King. May we live today as true citizens of his kingdom.
“Jesus, you are the King of ages. You are the incorruptible, invisible, only God. We give you honor and glory forever.”
2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-5; Luke 23:35-43