Nov 21 – Solemnity of Christ The King
Christ The King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of scripture and used by all Christians. The name is found in various forms in scripture: King Eternal (1 Timothy 1:17), King of Israel (John 1:49), King of the Jews (Matthew 27:11), King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16), King of the Ages (Revelation 15:3), and Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Revelation 1:5).
Many denominations including Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and some Lutherans and Methodists celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the liturgical year.
The ideological movement of Christ’s Kingship was addressed in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quas Primas (‘In The First’). In it, he quotes with approval St. Cyril of Alexandria, noting that Jesus’ Kingship is not obtained by violence: “Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature.”
Pope Benedict XVI has remarked that Christ’s Kingship is not based on “human power” but on loving and serving others. The perfect exemplar of that acceptance is the Virgin Mary, he pointed out. Her humble and unconditional acceptance of God’s will in her life, the Pope noted, was the reason that “God exalted her over all other creatures, and Christ crowned her Queen of heaven and earth”.
On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship; and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.
One of the greatest benefits of writing for Oxygen is how it spurs me to find out more about the feasts we celebrate. The yearly celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King was introduced by Pope Pius XI in 1925, after the First World War. Amid such significant uncertainty and change, Pope Pius hoped that the feast would remind us that Christ was our true King, and that his kingdom “demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness.”*
On a more personal level, I usually associate the feast of Christ the King with the end of the liturgical year and the many (positive but also secular) events which occur around this period, such as the start of the holidays and the period to clear leave. And ever since I heard a homily where the priest called on us to make it an occasion to give thanks for the past year, I have also tried to set aside time to reminisce, especially because this day seems like a better time to do so than the mad rush of the Advent season.
But at this point, I already feel that 2021 has been a difficult year (besides the fact that I don’t even know how the months have gone by so quickly). Although I am indeed grateful for the many ways that God has reached out to me, the year has been beset by unexpected challenges which have often left me feeling drained, helpless and maybe even stuck in a more negative mindset compared to last year. Even the spiritual ‘progress’ I thought I made through more prayer and reading/watching content (since I have more time at home now) seems to have stagnated.
But perhaps this makes today’s feast all the more important and relevant. In remembering that Christ is our true King, we acknowledge that He is our creator, He alone can save us through His love and mercy, and He is above all the circumstances we face. I am also reminded (in line with Pope Pius’ letter above) that we are all subjects of Christ’s kingdom, and hence are called to follow our Lord in his example of loving and serving his subjects.
This makes me recall another homily I heard towards the end of the calendar year, where the priest suggested we reflect on the year with the questions, “How have we chosen to love? Knowing the many times we might have failed to do so, how can we choose to love for the year ahead?” Perhaps these thoughts can shape my contemplation for this year.
*I learned this from this article at https://aleteia.org/2016/11/19/why-do-we-celebrate-christ-the-king/
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jaclyn Lam)
Prayer: Lord, you are our true King. Forgive us for the times we have overlooked this, and for the times we have forgotten our identity as subjects of your kingdom. Give us the wisdom and strength we need to stay close to you for the year ahead.
Thanksgiving: Jesus, we give you praise and thanks for the past year. Thank you for watching over us and for blessing us in ways both expected and unexpected.