Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, it is the last Sunday of the Liturgical year as next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. The Gospel proclaims the great mystery of our faith, in the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is revealed as King, our Lord, and Saviour to all.
Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in1925 to counteract the growing atheism and secularism of that time. This feast celebrates an aspect of Jesus’ identity, we recognize and honour Christ as ruler of all.
The vision of Christ the King in today’s Gospel contradicts all our worldly ideas of what a king or ruler should be. Jesus is not sitting on a throne, neither did he live in a palace, surrounded by servants. On the contrary Jesus came to serve and his kingship is shown on the cross. It is a scene of violence and murder, a horrific event, which is transformed by God’s power into a place of grace and the work of Christ as our Saviour and Redeemer. In this way the cross is the throne of Christ the King who is Lord and ruler of all. His power is radically different from worldly power, it comes from his love for others, and his crown is not a crown of gold but is made from painful thorns. The irony of the inscription nailed above his head “King of the Jews,” most probably to mock him, is that it contains the greatest truth.
Jesus’ encounter with the good thief is found only in Luke’s Gospel, as the crowd jeers, one of the criminals crucified either side of him recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King, in doing so he finds salvation. Jesus tells him “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Those who had eyes of faith were able to see Jesus as Lord and King. As Christians, today’s Gospel invites us to make our own judgement and realization that Jesus is King. With eyes of faith, we too, recognize that Jesus, the crucified One, is indeed King and Saviour of all. Ask yourself if this is truly how you feel about Jesus as you pray before a crucifix. Even on the cross Jesus found the power to forgive. Can I find the power to forgive, even in the darkest moments?
“The true meaning of his Kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 440).