Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crown of the Catholic liturgical year. The Solemnity – instituted fairly lately – by Pope Pius XI in 1925, anticipates the season of Advent, where we as a church begin our yearly journey anew, preparing our hearts through the apocalyptic scriptures for Christ’s imminent return – His Second Coming – as Just Judge and Triumphant Eternal King.
After this, in five short weeks, we will greet Christmas morn – the joyful remembrance of His humble First Coming as the tender babe of Bethlehem. What a startling contrast!
In his encyclical Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI reclaimed Jesus’s dominion and Kingship in the public square in a turbulent post-war era when secularism, nationalism, and atheism were hammering at the stability and peace of nations. The call was clear: unless Christ was given His rightful place in our lives and in our nations, peace and prosperity would evade us.
“He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members…Quas Primas, 33.
Merely accepting the crucified and resurrected Jesus as loving Savior is not enough. He must be given first place as Lord and Ruler of our lives if we truly aspire to be His disciples and attain eternal life. The world cannot know true peace without Christ.
Our second scripture from Colossians 1 declares Christ’s pre-eminence in the entire created universe. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers…And the powerful life-changing truth “…all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” All things were created…. for Him.
As a young person who frequently struggled with the existential question, why did God make me? how marvelous it was when I discovered the reason I existed was for Christ Himself. I was made for Him. He rejoices over me with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) In Christ’s universe, each of us matters, no matter how little. To quote Fr. Mike Schmitz, “Yes, God is King of the entire universe, except maybe one little corner of it. Your heart.”
On this feast day, let us search our hearts and give up any dark corners of self-will, so that the King of Kings can have absolute reign. Then to paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila, Nothing will disturb us, nothing will frighten us. For all things are passing away but God never changes. With patience we will obtain all things. For, whoever has God will lack nothing; God alone will suffice.
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