Christ, King of the Universe
“Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us, to gaze on the Lord and to immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.” – Blessed Pope John Paul II
While in Spain for the most recent World Youth Day, we had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Cerro de los Angeles, the geographical center of Spain and home to the most gigantic statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus I have ever seen. (It stands 38 feet tall on top of an 85 foot pedastal!) This statue, erected in 1919 when King Alfonso XIII had all of Spain consecrated to Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart, proclaims in words inscribed at its base: “Reino en España” or “King of Spain”. It struck me as so appropriate that the image of Jesus chosen to represent Him in His role as King would be an image that is all about His superabundant mercy and love. Indeed, Jesus is a King who leads His people gently and with great mercy. His power is “a power that has its source not in the powers of this world, but instead in the mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection.” (Bl. Pope John Paul II)
This month we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, which has been renamed in the new translation of the Roman Missal as the solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe. With this new name, we are reminded by the Church that Christ is King, not only of Spain or of the United States of America or of Canada. He is not even just king of the earth. No, He is the King of all the universe and His power, although absolute, is also, as Blessed John Paul II reminds us, “sweet and gentle… It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth.” Jesus is a King who leads us by His example of humility and obedience to the will of the Father even to the point of accepting His death on the Cross.
We are all faced with many sufferings, some big and others smaller, in our lives. At times we can feel overwhelmed or completely powerless. It is at these times, that we can look to Christ, our King, for the example of how to act. In Him we can base our strength and find our hope. In his short, but powerful book, Interior Freedom, Fr. Jacques Philippe addresses the question of what we can do in the face of suffering over which we appear to have no power or control. He reminds us that
Even if we can do nothing, as long as we believe, hope, and love, something is happening whose fruits will appear sooner or later, in the time of God’s mercy. Love, though bereft of means and apparently powerless, is always fruitful. It cannot be otherwise, because it is a participation in the being and life of God.
Isn’t this also the message of the Cross and Resurrection? Doesn’t this explain why Jesus, despite tormenting pain and mockery of onlookers and passers-by, continued pouring out His love to the end? He believed and hoped that this act of superabundant love would bear fruit “in the time of God’s mercy.”
Sometimes, however, as we know all too well, we can begin to doubt if our persevering love, our faith and our hope are really worth it in the face of so many sufferings and so much evil around us. Just the other day I was on the phone with a young mother who asked me, “Sister, how is it that I am here trying to be close to God and to do the right thing while others are out living lives of sin without a thought for God and they seem so happy while I’m just trying to make it day to day?” A good question. The answer comes down to believing, hoping and loving.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited New York in 2009, he spoke personally of his youth saying, “My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.” Our Holy Father continued saying that although this particular “sinister regime” was eventually defeated, “The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians…” We believe that Love, not suffering, has the final say.
In his final Thanksgiving Day homily to our community before his death in January 2009, Msgr. William Smith, an eminent moral theologian on the faculty of St. Joseph’s Seminary for a lifetime, reminded us of the source of our hope in words that echo in our ears to this day. Throughout that homily he repeated the refrain,
God is in His Heaven.
The Lamb is on the throne.
The battle has been won.
The battle has already been won. Sin and death were defeated on that day when Christ, King of the Universe rose from the dead and ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father. From there He reigns as King of heaven and earth. In this lies the source of our hope.
And so as we live out these dramatic days in our country, let us continue to believe, to hope and to love. May we return often to the source of our strength and our hope. Let us turn to Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass and in times of silent adoration. Let us find in Him the courage we need to forge ahead in the drama of our day-to-day lives. And let us ask our Queen, Mary our Mother, to draw us ever nearer to the Most Sacred Heart of her Divine Son, Christ, King of the Universe.
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and earth, pray for us!