And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at Jesus, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
It happens not infrequently that someone discovers a dust-covered painting that has long remained unnoticed. After cleaning it and observing it more closely, one finds that it is a masterpiece of great value. The Church too had such a treasure hidden away in obscurity and that was the picture of Christ as King. It was left to our own time to discover this truth and to give it a place of honour in the liturgy of the Church. That is why the Church now annually celebrates the feast of Christ The King.
There are a number of feast during the year when refernce is made to the theme of Our Lord’s Kingship. For example, Christmas when we sing of the Prince of Peace; Epiphany when the wise men form the East to honour the King of Kings; Palm Sunday when we pay homage to Christ as King and Conqueror; Ascension when we celebrate his glorification and enthronement as King.
Christ was first represented to Mary as king when the angel said to her, "And the Lord God shall give unto him the, throne of David his father" (Luke I:32b). And Christ in the face of death, spoke to Pilate who was judging him, 'Thou has said it, I am a king…, although my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:37). To uphold this title of his kingship he accepted death. On the cross was nailed the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.
Year after year we celebrate the feast of the Kingship of Christ. We acknowledge Christ as our King. But if we ask ourselves this question: "What are the claims of Christ to Kingship?" what would be the answer?
The feasts and ceremonies of the Catholic Church have always as their underlying principle and foundation some religious doctrine. It is but fitting then that we annually prepare ourselves for the 'feast of Christ The King by closely examining Christ's claims to Kingship, try and understand better the laws of his Kingdom, and strive to be better subjects of the Kingdom.
First, the Kingship that belongs to Christ is by reason of the Incarnation. This has bestowed upon him the positive appointment of kingship. This is proved by Christ himself when he said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). However, there is a further claim of Christ to kingship and universal dominion over mankind. It comes from the fact of the Redemption. And this Redemption of the human race by Christ, at the same time, a conquest over Satan, a decisive victory over the powers of sin and evil. Moreover, Jesus Christ is the King because he is the Head of the Church, Head of the Mystical Body, and as the Head the source and fountain of all grace, fro from him flows that supernatural life-giving virtue that helps sinful mankind to rise from the mire of misery and vice and enables us to climb the heights of virtue and holiness.
Will we be loyal subjects to such a king? Then carry his spirit into the world we live in, into the dust and heat of the marketplace to further his kingdom.
Do we desire to the devoted subject of such a king? Then carry Christ’s spirit into our very life, working quietly and silently as leaven works in dough.
May the Kingdom of Christ be established in our souls, in our families, in our parishes, in our Church, and, indeed in our world. May our celebration of he Feast of Christ the King helps us to make this the aim of our life, to be better subjects of Christ so that climbing with him the steep path of virtue we may receive from him the crown of life hereafter. Amen.