The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

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“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”

 

Opening Prayer

Prayer to Christ the King

Christ Jesus, I acknowledge You King of the universe.

All that has been created has been made for You.

Make full use of Your rights over me.

I renew the promises I made in Baptism,

when I renounced Satan and all his pomps and works,

and I promise to live a good Christian life

and to do all in my power

to procure the triumph of the rights of God

and Your Church.

Divine Heart of Jesus,

I offer you my efforts

in order to obtain that all hearts

may acknowledge your Sacred Royalty,

and that thus the Kingdom of Your peace

may be established throughout the universe.

Amen.

Collect

Almighty ever-living God,

whose will is to restore all things

in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,

grant, we pray,

that the whole creation, set free from slavery,

may render your majesty service

and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Reading I

Dn 7:13-14

As the visions during the night continued, I saw

one like a Son of man coming,

on the clouds of heaven;

when he reached the Ancient One

and was presented before him,

the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;

all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

that shall not be taken away,

his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.1 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”2 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.3 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”4

CCC 664 Being seated at the Father’s right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah’s kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel’s vision concerning the Son of man: “To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”5 After this event the apostles became witnesses of the “kingdom [that] will have no end”.6

1 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

2 Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Is 53:10-12.

3 Cf. Jn 19:19-22; Lk 23:39-43.

4 Acts 2:36.

5 Dan 7:14.

6 Nicene Creed.

Application

Today’s feast day was instituted as a rallying-call to all Christians to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ our King over all earthly powers, kingdoms and peoples. This call was very necessary in an age when worldliness and earthly ambitions were drawing the minds of men further away from God and Christ, and from their own eternal interests. Our twentieth century has seen not only pagan countries denying the existence of God and a future life but nations that were once Christian have been forced to live under atheistic regimes which forbid the public practice of religion. It was to counteract and stem this growing infidelity that Pope Pius XI instituted the feast in honor of Christ the King; he wanted to remind Christians of the fidelity and loyalty they owed to Christ who by his incarnation had made them adopted children of God and future citizens and heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

Today’s extract from the Book of Daniel, written two centuries before Christ came on earth, tells us that the son of man would receive from God his Father, dominion and sovereignty over all peoples, nations and languages. He would be the king of kings and the lord of glory and his kingdom would last forever. Many other messianic prophecies in the Old Testament give Christ the Messiah the title of King. The prophet Nathan promised King David (c. 1000 B.C.) that a descendant of his would come “who would establish his throne forever” (2 Sm. 7: 16). Isaiah says of the future Messiah: “he will sit on David’s kingly throne, to give it lasting foundations of justice and right” (Is. 9: 6-7; see 1-5). In the prophet Jeremiah we read: “a time is coming, the Lord says, when I will raise up from the stock of David a faithful descendant at last” (Jer. 23: 3). To crown and confirm the Davidic typology, the Virgin Mary is told by the angel that the child she is to conceive “shall be known as the Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David . . . and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1: 32).

We are called on today to honor Christ our King. The other feasts of our Lord which we celebrate throughout the year remind us of all that Christ has done for us, but today’s should call to our minds what we are to do for him in return. Unlike the kings of earthly kingdoms who rightly expect their loyal subjects to die for them and their nation if need be, our King, Christ, died for us in order to make us free citizens of his kingdom. He does expect us to be ready to die for him and for his kingdom if the occasion should arise, and down through his Church’s history many of his loyal subjects have gladly done so. But from the vast majority of his subjects, Christ does not demand this supreme sacrifice. What he does expect and demand is not that we should die for him but that we should live for him. This we can and should do by faithfully living our Christian life day by day.

The loyal, honest citizen of any country will keep the law of the land of which he is a citizen. A Christian has double citizenship: he is a citizen of his homeland and he is a citizen of Christ’s kingdom. He must, therefore, be loyal to his country and loyal to Christ but as the Christian law commands obedience to the lawful civil authority the two obligations are identical in many cases. As Christians, however, we have some extra duties to perform above and beyond what our country demands of us. These can be summed up briefly in the double commandment of charity, love of God and love of neighbor.

While most civilized states have laws preventing their citizens from publicly insulting God or religion, and all states prohibit citizens from injuring their neighbor in his person or in his property, the Christian law demands a positive approach. The Christian is bound to love, reverence and obey God. The first three commandments spell out for him how this is to be done. Likewise, the Christian rule of life not only forbids a Christian to injure his neighbor, it commands him positively to help his neighbor–in fact to love him as he loves himself.

How loyal are we to Christ? Are we worthy citizens of his kingdom on earth and so working our way toward his eternal kingdom in heaven? Our answer is the answer to the question: do we sincerely love God and our neighbor? Only we can give a true answer to this question and it is we ourselves who will reap the reward or suffer the eternal consequence of the positive or negative answer which our consciences give to this vital question.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5

The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

The LORD is king, in splendor robed;

robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.

The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

And he has made the world firm,

not to be moved.

Your throne stands firm from of old;

from everlasting you are, O LORD.

The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed;

holiness befits your house,

O LORD, for length of days.

The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

Reading II

Rv 1:5-8

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness,

the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,

to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him.

All the peoples of the earth will lament him.

Yes. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God,

“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 784 On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people’s unique, priestly vocation: “Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new people ‘a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.’ The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.”1

CCC 1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”2 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be. .. a holy priesthood.”3

CCC 2854 When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”4

Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.5

CCC 2855 The final doxology, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever,” takes up again, by inclusion, the first three petitions to our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign, and the power of his saving will. But these prayers are now proclaimed as adoration and thanksgiving, as in the liturgy of heaven.6 The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.7 Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father, until he hands over the kingdom to him when the mystery of salvation will be brought to its completion and God will be all in all.8

1 LG 10; Cf. Heb 5:1-5; Rev 1:6.

2 Rev 1:6; cf. Rev 5:9-10; 1 Pet 2:5,9.

3 LG 10 § 1.

4 Rev 1:8,18; cf. Rev 1:4; Eph 1:10.

5 Roman Missal, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126: Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi.

6 Cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:13.

7 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

8 1 Cor 15:24-28.

Application

As one would expect on this special feast day of Christ our King, the readings chosen from sacred Scripture stress the kingly glory and dignity of Christ after his triumph over sin and death, while they also remind us of how much we owe him. This kingly glory will be visible to all men at his second coming–a vision which will delight his faithful ones but which will strike terror into his enemies. In his Apocalypse, St. John reminds us first and foremost of all that Christ has done for us. During his life among us, he has revealed his loving Father. It was his own divine love that made him come as the incarnate Son of God and give his life for us. He triumphed over death and continues to love us in heaven. He established his messianic kingdom, in which we, his subjects, are given the power and the privilege of serving God with a true service–for he has joined us to himself who alone could give fitting service to his Father.

John then reminds the faithful followers of Christ and Christ’s opponents as well that Christ will return in glory and majesty to demand a reckoning from each one. This is a sobering thought for all of us. Each will have to stand before the tribunal of Christ one day and see one’s life work laid bare. On that day we shall see all our thoughts, words and actions as they really were. Here on earth, our prejudices and our pride and selfishness can minimize our faults and exaggerate our virtues, but in the presence of the omniscient Judge we will see ourselves as we truly are. We shall have no excuses to offer because we will see the emptiness, the folly of the excuses with which we silenced our consciences here below. Instead of making too much of our good deeds and our virtues, we will realize how little we have done for him who humbled himself even to the death of the cross for our sakes. The saints of God regretted that they had not done more for the Savior and King who had gone to such lengths in order to bring them into his heavenly kingdom.

We thank God that the dread moment has not yet arrived. We have still time left in which to put our conscience and our spiritual affairs in order. Today’s feast gives each one of us the opportunity of seeing how we stand in relation to Christ. Are we loyal subjects faithfully trying to carry out his laws? Are we sincerely grateful to him who put heaven within our reach, showed us the way to go there and is daily helping us? If so, let us promise that with the help of God’s grace we will continue to be loyal and grateful.

If, on the other hand, some of us will have to admit to ourselves, and to Christ, that we have been far from faithful and too often entirely ungrateful for his divine love and mercy we still have a chance to put things right before our judgment day arrives. Christ is ever ready to forgive and welcome back the prodigal sons. Today our King is calling to us to return home to him who “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” He died on a cross so that we should have eternal life. He is ready to forgive and forget all our past disloyalties, if only we will turn to him and ask for forgiveness. Our verdict on the day of our judgment will depend on the decision which we take today. Our eternity of happiness or of misery depends on that verdict. With our eternal future at stake should we allow the trivial, transient things of this life to come between us and Christ, the King of Kings?

Gospel

Jn 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus,

“Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own

or have others told you about me?”

Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?

Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.

What have you done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.

If my kingdom did belong to this world,

my attendants would be fighting

to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.

But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.

For this I was born and for this I came into the world,

to testify to the truth.

Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 160 To be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free, and. .. therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act.”1 “God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. .. This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus.”2 Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. “For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. .. grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself.”3

CCC 217 God is also truthful when he reveals himself – the teaching that comes from God is “true instruction”.4 When he sends his Son into the world it will be “to bear witness to the truth”:5 “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true.”6

CCC 549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,7 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,8 but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.9

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.10 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.11 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.12 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.13 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,14 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

CCC 600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: “In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”15 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.16

CCC 2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”17 The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.”18 In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”19

1 DH 10; cf. CIC, can. 748 # 2.

2 DH 11.

3 DH 11; cf. Jn 18:37; 12:32.

4 Mal 2:6.

5 Jn 18:37.

6 I Jn 5:20; cf. Jn 17:3.

7 Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.

8 Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36.

9 Cf. Jn 8:34-36.

10 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.

11 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.

12 Cf. Jn 18:37.

13 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.

14 Cf. Ps 118:26.

15 Acts 4:27-28; cf. Ps 2:1-2.

16 Cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18.

17 Jn 18:37.

18 2 Tim 1:8.

19 Acts 24:16.

Application

In today’s two previous readings we have seen that the prophets foretold the kingship of Christ and the Apostle John described him as the founder of our kingdom who one day would judge all mankind. In today’s gospel, we have our divine Lord’s own statement that he is a king–the king of a new and everlasting kingdom which is not of this world. He made this statement to the Roman governor to whom he had been handed over by the priests and leaders of the Jewish people to be put to death by crucifixion. Long before, he had foreseen this death and had accepted it as part of his Father’s plan for making atonement for the sins of mankind. He knew Pilate did not believe that he was the leader of a rebellion against the Roman authorities, but he did not try to influence Pilate’s decision in his favor for he wanted the will of his Father carried out to the letter.

Five centuries before, the prophet second-Isaiah had described the Messiah who was to come as the Servant of God who suffered torments on our behalf. The prophet says: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… surely, he has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. We like sheep have gone astray… and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep before its shearers he opened not his mouth” (Is. 53: 3-7). Had Pilate known this prophecy he would not have been surprised that Jesus uttered no word in his own defense. His Father had sent him to raise up mankind and to make atonement for men’s sins; his death on the cross was that supreme act of atonement and without objection he accepted it.

The kings of this earth demand of their subjects that they should be ready, if necessary, to lay down their lives to defend their king and realm. Men have always accepted this and millions have gladly given their lives to defend their country and rulers. We have a king who laid down his life for us and set us an example unlike that of any earthly king. Following his Father’s will, he did this to make us worthy to share in the Father’s eternal kingdom. The incarnation, which made us adopted children of God, and the crucifixion, which obtained remission of our sins, surely prove to us the love and the esteem in which God holds us. It should also show how important is our future life. Christ did not come on earth to make us healthy, happy or prosperous in this world; he came to open heaven for us where we could be happy forever. This was God’s purpose in creating us. This is his purpose for us still. All our other interests in this life are secondary when compared with this.

In honoring Christ today as our King, let us especially thank him for all the humiliations and sufferings he endured on our behalf. If our Christian way of living makes some demands on us let us not forget how trivial they are when compared with what Christ’s earthly life cost him. He made these severe sacrifices for us; we are asked to make our small offerings for ourselves. Our self-interest alone should inspire us, but our gratitude to Christ should especially move us to play our part. Let us promise to be grateful and loyal subjects of his for the rest of our days. He has made us members of his kingdom on earth–the Church–and is preparing a place for us in his everlasting kingdom. Let no one be so foolish as to forfeit an eternal happiness because of some earthly attachment to the passing things of this world.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press

Benedictus

Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified son of a carpenter, is so intrinsically king that the title “king” has actually become his name. By calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the king, as people who recognize him as their king. But we can understand properly what the kingship of Jesus Christ means only if we trace its origin in the Old Testament, where we immediately discover a surprising fact. It is obvious that God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was, in fact, a result of Israel’s rebellion against God and against his prophets, a defection from the original will of God. The law was to be Israel’s king, and, through the law, God himself… But Israel was jealous of the neighboring peoples with their powerful kings… Surprisingly, God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The son of David, the king, is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself… God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out: on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right ways. We can see that, for instance, in the case of Adam, whose fault became a happy fault, and we see it again in all the twisted ways of history. This, then, is God’s kingship – a love that is impregnable and an inventiveness that finds man by ways that are always new… God’s kingship means that we must have an unshakeable confidence… No one has reason to fear or to capitulate. God can always be found.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Closing Prayer

Prayer to Christ the King

Let us praise Jesus Christ our king

for the wonderful things he has done.

He sends out his word to heal us.

He satisfies the thirsty with the water of life.

He fills the hungry with the abundance of his kingdom.

Let us praise Jesus, redeemer and renewer of all things.

May we always trust in his goodness and love,

And have faith in his grace and mercy,

May we always believe he cares about justice and righteousness,

And draw our life from his eternal purposes.

Let us praise Jesus Christ our king and savior,

May we be filled with the hope and promise of his coming,

And give our lives to follow him.

May we be gripped by his kingdom ways,

And walk with assurance and trust into his grace and peace.

Amen.

 

 

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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