Sunday, November 15, 2015

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - November 22, 2015

Surprisingly, this Solemnity of Christ the King is not that old.  It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925.  Identifying Christ as King may seem obvious but the reason His Holiness placed this Solemnity on the liturgical calendar seems even more fitting for us today than in 1925.  Pope Pius XI felt that the culture of his day was living as if Christ didn't exist.  In our highly secularized culture of today this Solemnity reminds us that Jesus Christ is our Ruler and He is Head over all nations and governments.  On the old calendar or what the Church now calls the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, this Solemnity was and is celebrated on the last Sunday of October, just before the Solemnity of All Saints.  On the revised calendar or Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is the final Sunday of Ordinary Time, hence the final Sunday of the liturgical year.  Traditionally for this Solemnity, an appropriate hymn from the Latin Motet begins with the words: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat – Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules!

First Reading Commentary
This First Reading is apocalyptic as it deals with the last days and eternity. 
Without working the brain too hard, Jesus can be seen as the fulfillment of this Reading especially with the use of the words, "Son of Man," as Jesus often referred to Himself using those very same words. 
We also identify Jesus in this Reading by referring to the Gospels: "You shall see the Son of Man, sitting on the right Hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64); also, "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). 
Most comforting is the final verse which assures us that His dominion is everlasting and shall never be destroyed.
Second Reading Commentary
The Book of Revelation can be very confusing and often avoided by many who admirably make Scripture reading a daily practice.  This Reading, however, is a pretty clear description of the Kingship of Jesus Christ.  He is described here as the "Ruler of the kings of the earth" which fittingly makes Him the King of kings. 
As with any ruler, citizens cling to the hope that their leader will make decisions that are best for their well-being and future.  Jesus saw fit to love us, sacrifice Himself for us, free us from our sins, destroy death and offer us the gift of eternal joy and peace.  And thanks be to God, Jesus is not subject to term limitations.  His Kingship is forever! 
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters respectively of the Greek alphabet and are used here to signify that Jesus is the beginning and the end, "the One Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty" - the Everlasting Universal King.
Gospel Commentary
One of the writers of the early Church, Origen Adamantius, had written a commentary on the Lord's Prayer; and he reminds us that the Kingdom of God cannot be seen because it is within us.  He adds: "When a man prays that God's Kingdom may come, he is praying, as he should, for the Kingdom of God, which is within him, that it may rise, flourish and reach its full growth." 
In this Gospel, Jesus tells Pilate: "My Kingdom does not belong to this world."  If God's Kingdom is to rise, flourish and reach its full growth within us, then it's important to let go of worldly attachments – to be in the world but not of it.  And letting go doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be cast out or thrown away; but if by some unfortunate circumstance any worldly possessions were lost forever, our spiritual life needs to be strong enough and mature enough to be able to proclaim harmoniously with the holy man Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).  It is certain, then, that the unshakeable Kingdom of God can make its presence known to the world through us.
Continuing with Pilate's interrogation, Jesus adds: "I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My Voice."  Missing from this Gospel passage is Pilate's next question: “Quid est veritas?” - "What is truth?"  The dictionary defines truth as: Conformity to fact or actuality.  Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Truth when He says: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6).  Christians absolutely believe that Jesus is the Truth and must continue to draw ever closer to Him because today's world constantly challenges beliefs and tempts disciples to question faith.  But in truth, Sacred Scripture warns that this would happen: "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3). 
The truth is that Jesus is the only Way and by diving deeper into Sacred Scripture and the events of Christ's persecution and death, what is found there is that in our Lord's day the population was defined mostly by two categories: Jew and Gentile.  And perhaps by allowing Himself to be betrayed by one and crucified by the other, exposes the truth and reality that all are in need of His saving grace.  All need to prostrate themselves before the Feet of the King of kings.  Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat --Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules!