The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
The end of the world. We’ve been hearing a lot about it lately in our readings at Mass. In a liturgical sense the world is coming to an end. Today marks the last Sunday of the Church year before it begins anew with Advent; as we begin the new year remembering the King’s first coming, we end the year by looking ahead to His second.
When we think of the return of the King we often think, too, of the cataclysmic end of the world. We cannot know what that day will be like, but it need not catch us unawares nor make us wait in fear of it. For the King that is coming is the same King that died to save us, to reveal to us the truth: that our almighty God loves us. “For this I was born and for this I came into the world,” we read today. He is our King not because He enforces His rule but because we belong to Him. (John 17:24) He conquers not by strength, but by love; He does not defeat us but rather we find that we cannot help surrendering to Him in the face of overwhelming love.
One way to think of the return of Christ and the end of the world is to consider the reality of that full revelation of Christ to the world, the unleashing of the ocean of God’s love for all humanity. There are those who will run gladly into those waves, to the Jesus they already loved; they will “listen to His voice” because they already belonged to Him, willingly. They did not belong to the world but to the Lord, and for such souls His return will be the answer to a long-standing desire. For others, it will be terrifying to suddenly realize the love of God and how little love they bore for Him in their hearts. It will be as if they were stepping out of a dark cave into the light of midday: it burns. Think of it! Those who follow Christ already live as His subjects, or at least try to: they live as if He were their King. There are others who submit to the rule of lesser kings, or submit only to themselves: the coming of Christ the King will be an absolute shock, for all other “kings” will be revealed as false, and all thrones overturned. It would, quite literally, be the end of their world. For those who love Christ, who already follow Him as their King, it will be more like a beginning than an end.
Let us then strive all the more to be faithful subjects of this loving King, who wears not a crown of gold but one of thorns, who carries not a scepter but a cross, who was born not in a palace but in a stable. We cannot vote for Him, for He is King by right; what’s more is that we are His subjects not because we choose Him but rather because, out of love, He first chose us. (John 15:16)
Long live Christ the King!