On the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, this Sunday ( November 24th) is the feast of Christ the King. This feast is celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next Sunday is Advent, which begins a new liturgical year. This feast reminds us that whatever earth powers may do or ask of us, Christ is the true king that reigns in our hearts.
This feast has an interesting history. It was first celebrated in 1927 on Halloween. It was originally supposed to be the last Sunday of October, just before the Feast of All Saints – which, in 1926 just happened to be October 31st. In 1969, Pope Paul VI revised the feast and moved it to the last Sunday of the liturgical year. This feast was a response to the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism. While the world was increasingly telling Christians that they must compartmentalize their religion and give their highest allegiance to the government, Pope Pius XI wrote Quas Primas which emphasized, not the power and supremacy of the government, instead, the power and supremacy of the Lord, who is our first and primary King. This feast was to become a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King, Christ is our spiritual King and ruler who rules by truth and love.
Another interesting factor in this feast is that there is a Christ the King statue in Poland which is the largest statue of Jesus in the world. At 33 meters tall (one meter for each year of Jesus’ earthly life) the Christ the King statue is 3 meters taller than the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What actually is the Kingdom of Christ the King? How about this explanation given by Gerald Darring of St. Louis University Center for Liturgy. He states: “The Kingdom of God is a space – it exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy. The Kingdom of God is a time. It happens whenever someone feeds a hungry person, or shelters a homeless person, or shows care to a neglected person. It happens whenever we overturn an unjust law, or correct an injustice, or avert a war. It happens whenever people join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the faith. The kingdom of God is in the past, (life and work of Jesus) it is in the present and it is in the future. It is a condition. Its symptoms are love, justice, and peace. Jesus Christ is King."
We pray then that today God may free all the world to rejoice in God’s peace, to glory in God’s justice, to live in God’s love.
-Sr. Sandra Makowski
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221