Gospel Reflections

Feast of Christ the King

Luke 23:35-43

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Maura McMenamin

Published: November 20, 2016


INTRODUCTION
Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter, Quas Primas, in response to growing nationalism and secularism and in the context of the unresolved Roman Question. The title of the feast was “Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”  and the date was “The last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints.”  In Pope John XXIII’s 1960 revision of the Calendar, the date and title remained the same and, in the new simpler ranking of feasts, it was classified as a feast of the first class. In 1969 Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: “Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe.” Now we would say “King of the Cosmos.”

Christ the King Sunday celebrates the all-embracing authority of Christ as King and Lord of the cosmos. This feast is now celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent.

REFLECTION
In his encounter with Pilate, Jesus does not refuse the title “King” but rather emphasizes the real reason he came into the world, not to be king but to bear witness to the truth. This feast is a celebration of the Truth, the truth which sets us free. Rather than Jesus being under trial, Pilate is under trial as regards his ability to speak and maintain the truth.

The title “King” is perhaps old-fashioned. In the history of the world we have had despotic rulers and saintly rulers. Again in an era of individualism, willingness to acknowledge another’s superiority goes against the grain. In this world duplicity amongst some world leaders, Christ shines out as the “Bearer of the truth.” We owe Christ allegiance as the King of the cosmos.

Christ does not seek to impose his message of good news. Rather he offers it as a free gift. He offers his Love and Truth as free gift.
If we view the Kingship of Christ as a celebration of the truth, then it is very much a feast of truth, especially in this Year of Mercy.

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