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Christ the King

Dear Friends and Parishioners of St. Patrick,

As the final Sunday of each liturgical year, the Solemnity of Christ the King is often misunderstood.  There is a degree of truth when we relate this solemnity to the eschatological, that is, our belief about death, judgment, and the eternal destination of one’s soul. And there is truth in the claim that Christ’s Kingship was inspired from a golden age of Catholic monarchs who ruled Europe.

When we consider these two reasons for the solemnity, we have a grasp of what the Church may actually be proclaiming through this celebration.  First, Earth is not our final destination and the soul is created to know, love, and serve the Lord for all eternity. Second, God reigns over all creation and the law of the Gospel (without creating a theocracy) should be the underlying  basis for every government.  And what is the Gospel basis?  Out of love for God and neighbor, we promote the dignity of all human life and support the authentic common good of all citizens.  

In such a diverse society, both of these aspects can be somewhat jarring, if not outright rejected.  However, Kevin Tierney’s reflection on the Catholic Exchange website, helps us to understand the relevance and role of Christ’s Kingship in our modern world:

…while we are unlikely to influence civil government or secular society anytime soon, we must remember that Christ’s Kingship covers far more than that. His Kingship first and foremost rules over the individual. This isn’t some hope for the future; Christ is our King now. The most important thing about Christ’s Kingship is that when we submit ourselves under it, we are part of the heavenly Kingdom. The first part about being part of the heavenly Kingdom is to have a love and desire for it that surpasses all patriotism for nations on Earth.

The second thing to understand about membership in heaven’s Kingdom is that our actions are the visible proof of said membership. This is where the tension between the two concepts of Christ’s Kingdom comes together. While we are ultimately to be directed towards heaven, we direct ourselves towards heaven by our actions here on Earth. Everything we do on earth should have heaven in mind. If we haven’t reached that stage of perfection, congratulations, we still have holiness to grow into. Even if we never reach it perfectly, that is still the goal before us.

Regardless of the historical origins and motives for this solemnity, we can appreciate their constant reminder that Christ rules as King of our hearts which should shape how we live as faithful citizens on Earth while making our way to our heavenly homeland.

Yours in Christ the King,

Fr. Gurnick