On the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
By Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene | 25 October 2023
O Jesus, Prince of ages, King of nations, be the sole Ruler of my mind and heart.
The liturgy of the last Sunday in October is truly a triumphant hymn celebrating the Kingship of Christ. From the First Vespers of the Feast, the figure of Jesus is majestically portrayed, seated on a royal throne and dominating the entire world: “His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and all kings shall serve and obey Him. … He shall sit and rule and shall speak peace unto the nations.” The Mass opens with the apocalyptic vision of this extraordinary King whose majesty is intimately linked to His immolation for the salvation of souls: “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honour. To Him belong glory and power forever and ever.” (Introit)
In the epistle (Col 1:12–20), St Paul enumerates the titles which make Christ King of all kings: He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” These titles belong to Jesus Christ inasmuch as He is God, perfect image of the Father, exemplary cause of all earthly and heavenly creatures and, at the same time, Creator, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, of all that exists, for nothing has existence without Him, but “all things were created by Him and in Him … by Him all things consist.”
Then come His titles to Kingship as Man: “He is the Head of the Mystical Body, the Church. … Through Him … [God] reconciled all things unto Himself, making peace through the Blood of His Cross.” He who is already our King by reason of His divinity is also King through His Incarnation, which has constituted Him the Head of all humanity, and through His Passion, by which at the price of His Blood He has regained our souls, which already belonged to Him as His creatures. Jesus is our King in the full sense of the word: He has created us, redeemed us, vivified us by His grace, He nourishes us with His Flesh and Blood, He governs us with love, and by love He draws us to Himself. In the face of such considerations, the cry of St Paul rises spontaneously from our heart: “Giving thanks to God the Father … who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption … the remission of sins. ”
In the gospel (Jn 18:33–37), we have the most authoritative proclamation of the Kingship of Christ, since it comes from His own lips in that most solemn moment during the trial which preceded His Passion. Pilate explicitly questioned Him on the subject: “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus did not reply directly to this first question; actually, He is not King of any one determined nation; His Kingdom has nothing to do with the kingdoms of earth. But to Pilate’s second and more precise question, “Art Thou a King then?” Jesus replied unhesitatingly, “Thou sayest it; I am a King.” He proclaims His Kingship in the most formal manner before the highest civil authority in Palestine; He proclaims it, not in the midst of an enthusiastic crowd, nor in the triumph of His miracles, but bound with chains, before him who is about to condemn Him to death, before a crowd thirsting for His Blood, a few moments before being dragged to Calvary where, from the heights of the Cross, above His thorn-crowned head, will appear for the first time the title of His royalty: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (Jn 19:19) He had fled when the enthusiastic crowd wished to make Him their King; now He proclaims Himself King in the midst of the unspeakable humiliations of His Passion, thus affirming in the clearest manner that His Kingdom is not of this world, that His Kingdom is so sublime that no dishonour, no insults can eclipse it. But by this act, Jesus also tells us that He prefers to manifest His Kingship far more as a conquest of His Blood than as a title belonging to Him in virtue of His divine nature. We should go to meet this divine King with all the yearning of our soul. He presents Himself to us under an appearance so human, so loving, so welcoming, stretching out His arms on the Cross to invite all to come to Him, showing us the wound in His side as the symbol of His Love. Far from trying to escape His dominion, we should beseech Him to be the sole Ruler of our mind and heart, and the complete master of our will. We should submit ourselves and all that belongs to us to “His most gentle rule”. (Collect)
“You, my God, are an eternal King, and Yours is no borrowed kingdom. … When the Credo says, ‘of Your Kingdom there shall be no end’, this phrase nearly always makes me feel particularly happy. Yes, I praise You, Lord, and bless You, for Your Kingdom will endure forever…”St Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, 22
“O divine King, most amiable Jesus, my Redeemer, my Saviour, my Spouse, my Master and model, I renew today the total consecration of my being to You, begging You to take absolute dominion over me. Be my Sovereign, my Ruler, my Guide. Direct and govern me entirely, so that everything may turn to Your greater glory. Be King of my memory, of my intellect, of my will, of my emotions; I wish all to be completely subject to You and I invite You to reign in me.
“Your Kingdom is a kingdom of Truth, of Love, of Justice and of Peace. Grant that Your reign of Truth may be established in my mind, destroying all error, deceit and illusion. Enlighten me by Your divine Wisdom.
“Grant that Your reign of Love may be completely established in my will, to move it, draw it, and direct it always, so that I may no longer be moved by self-love, or by creatures, but by Your Holy Spirit alone. Make this weak, mean, rebellious will of mine strong, generous, constant; make it grow stronger by the persevering exercise of virtue, and by the gifts of Your Spirit. “Grant that Your reign of Justice may be established in all my actions, so that all I do, having this characteristic, may be a work of holiness, accomplished with purity of intention and with the greatest fidelity in order to give You pleasure and accomplish Your holy will.
“Grant that Your reign of Peace may be established, not only in my soul but also in my sensibility, so that, in harmony with the superior part of my soul, it may give You glory and neither retard me nor be an obstacle to union with You.”Sr Carmela of the Holy Spirit OCD