Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily, November 25, 2012, Christ the King, What is Ruling Our life?, Fr. Grégoire Catta, SJ


Sunday Nov 25, 2012 / SMA / Christ King of the Universe
Dan 7:13-14 / Ps 93 / Rev 1:5-8 / John 18:33b-37

The celebration of Christ as King of the universe is probably a challenge for most of us! What is the meaning of this title? What sense can we make of it in a context where we have gotten rid of kings and monarchy for a long time?

When I was at school in France I learned the history of my country. We had a chapter on King Louis the 14th who ruled the country from 1643 to 1715. He is the one who built the magnificent palace of Versailles and during this period the Kingdom of France became very powerful. In our books of history Louis the 14th is referred as "le roi soleil" the Sun King! He is the example given of the most achieved absolute sovereign of divine right! That means that opposing him basically meant opposing God. The French Protestant experienced this rather terribly when the edict of toleration that allowed them to practice their religion was abolished. Some would say that at that time the Catholic rule was fully enforced and so that the kingship of Jesus Christ was fully at work. They might dream of having for our time a true Christian leader, and even better, a true Catholic one, to rule the country and establish the kingship of Christ.

Well, you perceive easily that there is not much of the Gospel in all of this! When we celebrate Jesus-Christ as King of the Universe we are not wishing the coming of a temporal ruler! How disappointing and tiresome was the spectacle given by the last electoral campaign, and as Christians we cannot expect that Jesus Christ will govern us almost directly! When we are praying for the coming of the kingdom of God we are not praying for the installation all over the world of a Catholic kingdom! Jesus is very clear in his dialogue with Pilate: "My kingdom does not belong to this world." His kingship is of another sort than the kingships of this world, or – we could say today – the presidencies of this world. He is a different king. However, as we pray today on this feast of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, we truly wish Jesus Christ would rule the world. As we pray every day in the Our Father, we truly have the desire for the kingdom of God to come.

So what is this kingdom? What does it mean that Christ is the King of the Universe and that we want his rule to be enforced everywhere?

It means only one thing: LOVE. The rule we want to see enforced everywhere by recognizing Christ as the King of the Universe is the rule of love. We are called to love God by loving one another. Jesus has not only given us the rule, but the example. Remember that the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate takes place during the Passion. Jesus is giving everything that he has, everything that he is, for us. He is exercising his power by giving up any form of domination. He is resisting to violence by non-violence and forgiveness. He is a King who is taking the last place, washing the feet of his disciples. This is the rule of love, the kingship of love. And this is not cheap love. "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth." The truth is that we are called to love: to be loved and to love.

Celebrating Christ the King of the Universe is an invitation to ask ourselves: what is ruling my life? Today we express strongly that we want the rule of love given us by Jesus to really pervade the whole world. In truth that implies that other rules do not take the first position! What is the primary ruler of our lives? Is it love for others and a sane self-love or is it the striving for success, for power, for money? Not that success, power and money should have no place in our lives but are they directed towards the rule of love or are we directed by them?

I thought of this considering the wonderful feast we’ve celebrated this week. As a foreigner it was my second Thanksgiving holiday. Just like last year, I really appreciated it. Not only for the good turkey and pecan pie that I’ve eaten and then for the very enjoyable victory of the patriots, but because I’ve witnessed a deep sense of joy among many people from taking some time with family and friends. That comes with the challenge of thinking of those who remain lonely or have no means to celebrate and I’ve witnessed also the many signs of solidarity expressed in many places. In our parish for example with the special collection of food. There is something I find truly authentic here. And all is animated by the idea of gratitude, which is the origin and the end of love. If there is something I’d like to bring back to France that would be this holiday! So this week we had thanksgiving as probably a great opportunity to enforce the law of love.

And then, we had Black Friday. And here we cannot but be shocked by the coming back of the rule of money. Of course it is certainly great to do a few good bargains on Christmas gifts that will please others, and stores need to have special events to boost their sales. However, again with my foreign perspective, I couldn’t help but notice the battle of the stores to open earlier and earlier, encroaching on Thanksgiving Day, as a symbolic expression of the battle between the rule of money and the rule of love. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people were resisting against the excesses of Black Friday and that sounded right to me and appearing, among many other possible ways, as a path to bring about Christ’s kingship.

So yes, today as we celebrate Christ the King of the Universe, we are not nostalgic of having a president or a king of divine right. We pray that God’s ruling of love may pervade the entire world, all our society, all our lives. May we as well be granted the grace to resist being ruled primarily by other worldly idols such as money.

Enter supporting content here