Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son, the King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things, mercifully grant that all the families of nations now kept apart by the wound of sin, may be brought under the sweet yoke of His rule: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.
V. Dicite in nationibus, Alleluia
R. Quia Dominus regnavit a ligno. Alleluia
The following is adapted from the sermon preached by Fr Albert, O.P., on the Feast of Christ the King, 25 October 2020, in our little chapel of Loreto.
This eternal royalty of Our Lord Jesus Christ is not just the effect of a decree of the sovereign will of God, although it is certainly that… This royalty belongs to Him for very profound reasons which are rooted in the very nature of man and indissolubly linked with everything that Jesus Christ is for man. This is why the royalty of Christ has to be eternal: man needs a king, and the only man who can really fulfill this function is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can see that by simply meditating a moment on the title fixed by Pilate over the head of Jesus on the cross which said: JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS – written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The Fathers of the Church have seen in this title in three languages the symbol of the universality of the kingdom of Christ and, at the same time, a summary of the titles of His power over man.
The reason why man needs a king, in fact, is because he needs someone to direct him to his end, his goal in life, and we can distinguish a triple end for man that corresponds to these three languages and show that Christ alone can direct man to these three ends.
Christ: King in the Social Order
In the social order, man must tend towards peace, which is the perfection of social order: to this corresponds to the title written in Latin, for Latin was the language of political administration.
As Pope Pius XI wrote, in the encyclical Quas Primas which instituted this feast in 1925:
the manifold evils from which the modern world suffers comes from the fact that the majority of men have thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law out of their lives; from their family lives and from their political lives:… as long as individuals and states refuse to submit to the rule of our Saviour, no lasting peace will be possible. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.
No, we must not look for peace in ecumenism, in the abomination of gatherings like that of Assisi held by Pope John Paul II.
Peace can only come from justice, for peace, as St Augustine says, is the tranquility that comes from order, and order comes from the virtue of justice, by which men give to each other and God their due. This virtue can only come to men, wounded as they are by Original Sin, from the grace of God, which comes to us only through Jesus Christ.
Thus all talk about world peace that leaves Our Lord out of the picture is a lie and doomed to failure, as history has proved, and is still proving every day.
Christ: King in the Intellectual Order
Man must tend towards truth, which is a second end that is higher and more important than the first. To this end corresponds the title in Greek, which has always been the language of philosophical wisdom.
Christ alone can lead men to the knowledge of the truth. While it is true that human reason is capable, in principle, of coming to the knowledge of truth on its own, everyday experience proves that left to themselves, men fall into error and wander far from the truth, especially the most important truth, about God. In fact, most men have neither the time nor capacity nor even the desire to search for the truth – and those who do, end up at opinions which are all different and most often even contradictory.
In order to help men know certainly the plenitude of the truth, God sent His Son, the Word, Truth Himself, in person. It is He and He alone who can lead men to the truth, and He alone can be our teacher. To refuse this teaching, under the pretext of guarding the autonomy of one’s reason, is to condemn oneself to darkness, to the death of one’s intelligence, whose very life is the light of truth.
Christ: King in the Spiritual Order
In the order of grace, man must tend towards the possession of God, which is the third and most important aspect of his triple end, to which corresponds the title in Hebrew, the language of the revelation of God.
Christ is the king of our hearts, and it is He alone who must lead men to love the only true good, God, and thus attain happiness. If it is necessary for the human intelligence to have a guide in order to conduct it to the truth, it is still much more necessary for the human heart to be governed by a sure hand if it is ever to attain God Who it its true happiness. If God does not guide them, our hearts will, as the Liturgy says, surely totter on the road towards true happiness; we absolutely need His help.
If left to themselves, a great majority of men will not become virtuous – and even the small number of those who would like to try, will find themselves hindered, practically impeded, in their efforts to be good by those who surround them.
Men, like children, need a father to guide them, encourage them, and when necessary, punish them in order to make them grow in virtue and educate their hearts in the love of the one true good, in the love of God.
Who else can do that but Our Lord Jesus Christ? In order to love God, we must know Him, and not only by an abstract, remote knowledge. To love God, we must know His Heart, His interior life – and no one can make use know that except His only Beloved Son who is in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18).
It is only by looking on Jesus Christ in sinu Patris that we will know the love of God for us, and thus be able to respond to it, by giving Him our hearts in return.
Christ then, is King of all men – of the world, for He alone can bring it peace; of our intelligences, for He alone can bring us fully to know the truth because He is the Truth; of our hearts, because He alone can make us love God, Who is all our happiness.
O Most Loving and Gentle Jesus, I desire with all the affections of my heart, that all beings should praise Thee, honor Thee and glorify Thee eternally for that sacred wound wherewith Thy divine side was rent. I deposit, enclose, conceal in that wound and in that opening in Thy Heart, my heart and all my feelings, thoughts, desires, intentions and all the faculties of my soul. I entreat Thee, by the precious Blood and Water that flowed from Thy Most Loving Heart, to take entire possession of me, that Thou may guide me in all things. Consume me in the burning fire of thy holy Love, so that I may be so absorbed and transformed into Thee that I may no longer be but one with Thee.