Christ the King, a solemn feast that is celebrated right before Advent begins, emphasizes Christ’s role as King and reminds us of His coming on the day of judgment.
By Christina M. Sorrentino
22 November 2020
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.Luke 1:31-33
The Solemnity of Christ the King
We are familiar with the title of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king, and on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King in honor of Christ’s kingship. Originally, the day was celebrated on the last Sunday of October; a week before All Saints Day, and four weeks before the beginning of the Advent Season. The reason for the original date was to emphasize how Christ is not only the King of this world, but also reigns in the Heavenly Kingdom, where He is glorified eternally by all of the angels and saints.
The feast day, was first instituted by Pope Pius XI with his encyclical “Quas Primas” during a time of great political unrest with the rapid spread of fascism, socialism, and communism, and the rise of totalitarian regimes. People were searching for a king in all of the wrong places, placing their trust in the princes and material things of this world instead of in Christ, Who is the King of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
In 1969, the feast day was elevated to a solemnity, the highest rank of liturgical celebration in the Church calendar, and moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The new day, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of All,” now was chosen to more greatly emphasize Christ’s role as King, and to make the connection to His second advent (coming) on the day of judgment.
These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.Revelation 17:4
On the Kingship of Christ
Today, the Solemnity of Christ the King is much needed in our world. It is a celebration to honor the true King, not a king of riches and worldly pleasures, but one Who came into the world in poverty and humility. When King Herod was residing in his lofty palace surrounded by his servants offering him the most lavish dishes, Christ came into the world born in a stable and laid in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Christ, the King was a stark contrast to Herod, the King, and our very definition of a king. When we think of a king we tend to think of a kingship like that of Herod, one with a grand palace and servants waiting on him hand and foot. But Christ came to serve, not to be served, and it was no coincidence that he was laid in a food trough in a cave in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread” in Hebrew.
Christ came into the world to become our “bread”, the food that would give us everlasting life. He is the “Bread of Life”, and it is by eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood that we enter into life in Him. Jesus is the Word made Flesh, the rightful ruler made Flesh. Christ, Who is the Divine Son of God, came to take on our fallen humanity, uniting a human nature to His Divine Person (Hypostatic Union) to save us from our sins. The earthly realm of kingship through Herod brought more sin and death into the world by the massacring of the innocents, but Christ, the King of Heaven and Earth, defeated sin and conquered death by offering us His sacrifice on the Cross, and by His Resurrection.
Our Kingly Role
In our society we view a king as someone who is wealthy, having the most money and power. But the reality is that true kingship has nothing to do with the material world. The type of wealth we need is that of a richness in our faith. It is our faith that enriches us with the things that come from God, not the things that come from the world. Our Catholic faith is rich in beauty and is a precious treasure that is found within our hearts.
Once we become rich in faith, we can use our kingly role bestowed upon us by our baptism to lead others to Christ. Jesus brought others to Him by going to His Father. By coming on bended knee, and surrendering ourselves with complete trust, and relying on God alone we allow the Kingship of our Lord to reign over our hearts. We give Him everything we are and everything we hope to become, so that we can draw others to Christ by allowing ourselves to become instruments of the Kingdom.
As Catholics we need to fulfill our baptismal consecration by helping to turn the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters back towards Christ. We have to strive towards redirecting the focus of our society back towards the authority of Christ. It is only by the recognition of the power of Christ as King that we will one day have the restoration of peace, stability, and unity back in our world.
Christina M. Sorrentino is a millennial, cradle Catholic who is a blogger and freelance writer in Staten Island, New York. She is a member of St. Joseph-St. Thomas, St. John Neumann Parish. She has volunteered as a catechist, and has been involved with youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of New York. She earned a Masters in Education; Special Education Middle Childhood Generalist and later studied Theology at the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University and Religious Education at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Christina Marie is the published author of Called to Love A Listening Heart – A Book of Catholic Poetry, and has contributed articles and poetry to various online Catholic platforms. She is passionate about her Catholic faith, liturgy and the sacraments, praying for priests, and striving towards holiness. Her desire is to become a saint, and help bring souls to Christ in the Eucharist. You can visit her website at Called to Love – A Listening Heart, where she writes about the musings of a millennial Catholic called to love.