Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925. At the time, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ's authority, as well as the Church's, and even doubting Christ's existence. The institution of the feast was intended to raise the status of the Church above the, often oppressive, regimes of the day. It could be argued, not much has changed!

Whilst the feast of “Christ the King” is relatively modern it is firmly rooted in the scriptural concept of the “Kingdom of God”. We need to be careful though, the two ideas are very different.

If there is one thing that St Paul, the gospel writers and all the other NT authors agreed upon it was that Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God – here on earth. “The right time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the good news.”(Mk 1:15).

The Jewish word "Messiah," and the Greek word "Christ," both mean "anointed one," and came to refer to the expected king who would deliver Israel from the hands of the Romans. Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah but unlike the messiah most Jews expected, Jesus came to free all people, Jew and Gentile, not from the Romans, but from sin and death. Thus Jesus does not rule over a kingdom ‘of’ this world (John 18:36) but a kingdom that is, none the less, definitely ‘in’ it.

In Scripture then, the “Kingdom of God” is established by Jesus and entrusted to those who follow Him. We are empowered by our baptism to spread the “Good News” to all people and to care for the Kingdom until He comes again. Then he will “hand over the Kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:23). Everyone shall be raised into a radically different and everlasting life and the Kingdom will be fulfilled in a “New Creation”, a different kind of world, an earth united with heaven.

The “feast” of Christ the King tells us that Jesus’ authority reigns supreme in our hearts and minds now as we co-create the Kingdom and that He will be with us “until the end of time” (Mt 28:20).

© Bob Birtles 2010