Sunday, November 25, 2012


Fra Angelico
Ghent Altarpiece-van Eyck
Today is the feast of Christ the King and the final Sunday in the Church year.
It is one of our newest feasts instituted by Pope Pius XI  in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. He connected the denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism. At the time of Quas Primas, secularism was rising, and many Christians (including Catholics) began to doubt Christ's authority and existence, as well as the Church's power to continue Christ's authority. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. The Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed.

Deesis Mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

This encyclical has been called "possibly one of the most misunderstood and ignored encyclicals of all time. St. Cyril of Alexandria, noting that Jesus' kingship is not obtained by violence wrote: Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature. Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925 to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly supremacy. .

Europe was reeling from World War I, facing economic uncertainty, and witnessing the rise of dictators, such as Benito Mussolini, who were promising to make everything right. The Pope saw people of  faith being taken in by the earthly philosophies and false promises of such leaders. Respect for Jesus as Lord and ruler of life was waning, and so Pope Pius instituted this feast with three hopes:

Peter Jakab Szoke, Hungary
    That nations would see that the church is ruled by Christ, and thus has  freedom and is immune  from the  state;
    That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ;
    That the faithful would gain strength and courage as we allow Christ to reign fully in our hearts,  minds, wills, and bodies.

Christ’s kingship is not like a king with a jewel-encrusted crown in purple finery on a gold throne wielding an a scepter. Rather, he is the crucified God with a crown of thorns hanging half naked on a cross in order to set us free from our bondage.

Bro. Robert Lenz
Jesus comes to us not as a great conquering military leader but as the Prince of Peace, the One whose reign proclaims peace, justice, liberation,and love.

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