Solemnity of Christ the King – Year A

by Thabo Mkhonta

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As the Liturgical year comes to its climax close, the Church ends the year with a great Feast – the Solemnity of Christ the King! This is a recent feast, instituted in the 20th century by Pope Pius XI in 11 December 1925. Writing his encyclical Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI referred to the chief causes of the difficulties in which mankind was struggling under as because people have kicked Jesus Christ out of their lives; ‘that he has no place in their private affairs and in politics’ (Quas Primas, 1). So, this feast is a reminder that Jesus Christ is the Lord and King; not just a King for Christians only, but He is the King of the whole universe. And that is transcendental justice! Thus the Church has a right to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King!

We know worldly kings as majestic, splendored, filthy rich, extravagant, powerful, having armies, etc. It is like the whole world exists for them. Then there is Christ; crucified, abandoned, hated, condemned by society and by the church, and betrayed by his closest friends! Can you shout then seeing this man hanging on the cross, “O hail great King…Bayethe wena waphakathi!” He appeared weak and degraded there! He had no value in the eyes of the world. He had no power, he hanged on a cross like a criminal! He died humiliated! And because of in born pride, people of this world consider humility as the composite of all that is lowly and worthless. But in Christ we see humility as the royal road which a true King travels on in love.

Often we see power as having dominion over others. A powerful person is the feared one; not respected, but feared. S/he is feared because s/he can make life of others miserable, like the worldly kings or those of similar calibre or lifestyle. But then there is Christ, he showed the power of love! He showed us that you have to live for the other. And that means to the world, giving up power. The last thing a powerful person wants is to succumb to love. Love means giving up power, and focusing on the other. So in the Gospel, we see the sins which are going to stand before us in front of Christ the King; failure to love the other. Feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoner; which all need forgetting yourself and living for the other – the separation of worldly power and the power of love.

Now, as sinners, we see other people as a threat to our power because we have no power of love. In Jesus Christ we see the Power of the Almighty God becoming incarnate as love. Someone who gives Himself away, seeking the poor and lost, healing the sick and visiting the rejected. His power as a King is in love! Real kingly power is self-emptying love. When the psalmist says ‘the Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want,’ it means I am no longer living in that cave of selfishness, and wanting things for only myself like a worldly king. Those who have no Christ in themselves always want things for only themselves in trying to satiate their egos.

But what we celebrate in this great feast as a Church is the kingly power of love in giving first preferential option for the poor, taking care of the sick, welcoming the stranger, and visiting the prisoner…because that is the determining factor of our worthiness of the Kingdom of Heaven or not. Do you have the power of love in you? Live for the other, and impress your true eternal King.