In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Today, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. As with all feasts in the liturgical calendar, we are called to focus our prayerful adoration on a particular attribute of divine revelation.
God the Father reveals something specific about Himself in the life of a saint, in an event recorded in the Bible, and most directly in the special and unique character of His Incarnate Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
By focusing our prayer on something unique about Himself, God the Father invites us to adore Him with ever greater intimacy and love. He invites us to start to know Him as He already knows us. With an attention to detail, personal character traits, even idiosyncrasies, we begin to know God as we do someone we love and cherish. In the end, when finally freed from the last vestiges of sin, we shall be as in tune to Him as a small child to his parent. This is why one must be like a child to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, for God will not settle for anything less than that level of absolute intimacy between ourselves and Him. He does not want just part of what we have to offer. He wants us all, as He gives all of Himself to us. As a small child has nothing else but his parent, and as his parent is focused totally and lovingly on him.
This is a great mystery, for the same God who invites us into His bosom remains all powerful, all knowing, divine eternal life beyond all rational human comprehension. How can the created really know the Creator? How can the weak and confused have any shared reference with the strong and clear minded? How can the dead stand up and offer praise and thanksgiving to eternal life?
The answer is the Incarnation. God became like us, so that we may become like Him. He bridges the gap we could never bridge ourselves by first becoming intimate to us and to our fallen condition. He is God, always and forever, and yet He walked among us as our King, the leader among His people who embodied their deepest hopes and freed them from their fears.
Venite, exultemus Domino, Psalm 95, foresees the coming of Christ Jesus as Our King: “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is His also.”
Notice how God is described as great and strong. He is above all gods, and as such is beyond what we may conceive even with our imagination. At the same time, all the corners of the earth rest in his hand. He holds up the earth with gentleness and care, like when a father holds his infant up to his bosom.
The gentleness is more explicit later in the psalm: “O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Why is it that we may worship Him, notwithstanding how we are unworthy because of our sin? The psalm provides us the answer: “For He is the Lord our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
We are His subjects, the people of His pasture. He is our Good Shepherd, protecting us from the wolves of our own fallen nature, and searching for us when we are lost.
Christ is Our King, and that means that we are invited to be His subjects. We are the chosen people, the citizens of His Kingdom, transformed by His loving grace into a new creation, a royal race of men and women capable of living as intimately in God as He does in us.
Because Christ is King, He is our ruler. He does not offer us suggestions, ideas that we may consider, or amend, or set aside altogether when they are too difficult for us. He is not the head of a debating society, and He is not inviting us to listen to what He has to say and then to come up with our own pet dogmas about God, salvation, and eternal life. Instead, He gives us commandments. Eternally wise in origin, loving in purpose, always for our own good, but orders nonetheless. Moreover, He is not our constitutionally limited Monarch, and we are not His Parliament. We do not get to write the speech that He is then forced to deliver every year when a new session of Parliament is opened. When Our Lord says, “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect,” He means this literally, and we cannot make it otherwise.
Surely, this is a tall order; and if undertaken without Christ, this is an impossibility. Nevertheless, we have hope in the fact that as Christ is our King, so we are able to be His subjects. Throughout history, kings have been understood to be the icons of the people subject to them. There is no valid kingship apart from a distinct kingdom of people who with their own traditions and laws are set apart from the multitude. In theory, if not always in practice, the king is understood to embody in his very life the noblest and most unique ideals of his people. The good king is never far removed from his people, and the people can see their better selves in their king.
So much more is this the case with Christ Jesus, for He alone is the perfect King, and He alone invites every man and woman to separate out from the multitude of fallen humanity and to become like Him. Because of the underlying likeness of a king and his people, as Christ the King triumphs over death, so as His royal subjects may we too triumph over death. As Christ the King reconciles all of creation back to God, so as His royal subjects may we too be reconciled back to God. As Christ the King is in one, eternal, loving union with His Father, so as His royal subjects may we too love His Father as Christ loves Him. Indeed, it is precisely because Christ is our King and we are His royal subjects that He prays in John 17:21 that “they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
That they all may be one. As Christ is our King, so are we all one Kingdom in Him. We should pray for an end to dissension among Christians. The Church is one in Our Lord Jesus Christ, so should the Church be one among us. The Church is meant to be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. This is not a suggestion. This is a commandment.
As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. Our oneness is in our shared fidelity to Christ Jesus. Any and all ecumenical movements, religious or secular, not founded on Christ the King are lies. They are satanic illusions sold to the misguided with bumper sticker slogans: “Coexist,” “Tolerance: Believe in It,” and a particularly wordy bit of Satanism I saw on the freeway the other day – “God does not favor one religion, we are all evolving as designed.” Pretty, flowery nonsense all meant to turn us away from the uniqueness of Christ the King and of His Kingdom, and yet Christ Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through Him. As with everything else He said, this is not a suggestion. This is a statement of fact, and it is a commandment to us. We must choose Him or the world. Because He is our King, we cannot avoid the commandments implicit in everything He has revealed to us.
Returning to John 17:21, Christ Jesus prays for our oneness, so that “the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Because Christ is our King, and we are invited to be His royal subjects, so we have an obligation to be witnesses of Christ to those who are not yet in His Kingdom. This is our affirmative duty, for if indeed we are invited to share in the iconic kingship of Our Lord, then like Our Lord we must heal the sick, pick up the fallen, be a beacon of love for those who are lost. We cannot convert any man to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can turn a wayward heart, but we can and must work to maintain His good and faithful Church, which we know to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit in the world. As subjects of the King, we must do our part to keep clean the streets in His Kingdom, to fortify His battlements, and to welcome those who have crossed the drawbridge into their new home.
As Christ is our King, the Christian life can never be complacent. It is our clarion call to action. With whatever gift God has given to you, respond to that call. Take up your spear and your shield. Unfurl His flag no matter what the outsiders may think. Stand resolute and ready for when He calls upon you to march with Him into your eternal glory. Always be of good cheer, for as Christ is our King, so will we overcome sin and death if only we give ourselves over to Him.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.