Today, Catholic Christians celebrate the feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church Year.
For the past Church Year, we have been following Cycle C in our readings. That means, that most of our Gospel selections have been taken from St. Luke’s gospel. Next Sunday, we will begin the new Church Year that features Cycle A. That means that most of the Gospel selections will come from the gospel of St. Matthew.
In today’s gospel reading, we hear about Jesus on the cross (Luke 23: 35-43). Above Jesus’ head was inscribed, “This is the King of the Jews.”
While he was on the cross, the rulers and soldiers jeered him and said, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”
One of the men being crucified with Jesus said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered by saying, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Before exploring the importance of the Feast of Christ the King, let’s look at the following story by Michael Kohl called, “A Great Man.”
History records that he was a great man, yet he had humble beginnings. He came from small village, an ordinary boy who did nothing to draw attention to himself.
Like most of the boys his age, he went to school. He also worked in the family business and did his best to grow up strong and healthy. Deep inside, however, he knew he has a special purpose in this life, a destiny to fulfill.
As he grew older, many people began to notice that there was something special about this young man. He had a special talent and charisma. He was gifted like no other around him.
Before long, he started attracting crowds. Thousands came to see him and to listen to him.
He chose a small band of loyal companions who traveled with him wherever he went. Many of them had given up their jobs just to be with their idol and take care of his needs.
As his fame spread, many people began to become jealous of him. Others thought he was leading people astray, and they plotted against him. Despite the opposition, however, his fame and popularity only increased. He touched the lives of young and old alike, and he brought joy and laughter to the weak and downhearted. Many hailed him as a king.
Toward the end of his short life, he suffered quite a bit. Some who followed him fell away and turned to worshiping others.
He died alone. Those closest to him were left discouraged and confused. They never expected his life to end that way.
Soon after his death, rumors began floating around that he had not really died. His followers spread the news all around. “He lives!” they said. “He is not dead!” Even today, many believe he is still alive.
By now, you have probably figured out who this great man was. Yes, it was Elvis Presley.
What?! You thought I was talking about Jesus?
Well, if a story is crafted in terms general enough, one can easily jump to conclusions. That is one of the things we, as Christians, always need to be wary of, and that’s why I chose this interesting story.
On this Feast of Christ the King, here are three points to consider.
First, the Feast of Christ the King came into being in 1925 by order of Pope Pius XI. He created the feast day to remind the world that Christ was sovereign over all creation. This was important to emphasize because in those days, there nationalism was rising in many nations of Europe, and Fascism was infecting many European nations. Pope Pius XI wanted to be sure people knew who was ultimately in charge – and that was Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Second, the Catholic worldview is a romantic one. That means, that all Catholic stories must end in a “happily ever after” way. In the Catholic worldview, light will overcome darkness, life will overcome death, and goodness will overcome evil. Today, we see many earthly battles that pit hate against love, and exclusion against inclusion. In the Catholic worldview, love will eventually win, and so will inclusion. The Feast of Christ the King is a wonderful way to end the Church Year.
And third, the Feast of Christ the King reminds us that Jesus is whom we follow. Although we may get ideas from people such as powerful religious figures, no one can take the place of Jesus or his triple love command for us. Unfortunately, humans need to keep this in mind always, for they are often tempted to follow charismatic figures, political parties, or religious ideologies contrary to Christ’s simple, yet profound, command for us to love all people, including ourselves.
So as we continue our life journeys this week, it would be a good idea to reflect on our own spiritual journey. Do we continually focus on Jesus and his triple love command? Or are we tempted to follow people and ideologies that preach things contrary to Jesus, things such as hate, exclusion, and fear?
And that is the good news I have for you on this Feast of Christ the King, 2016.
Story source: “A Great Man,” Michael Kohl, in Wayne Rice (Ed.), Hot Illustrations for
Youth Talks 4, El Cajon, CA: Youth Specialties Books/Zondervan, 2001, pp. 57-58.