Despite the machinations of those who had rejected Christ’s peace, Christ’s reign is complete and eternal… writes Marilyn Rodrigues
In 1925 the world was lurching from one major crisis to another, rocked by waves of political, social and economic disorder. Mussolini dismantled the Italian government and took control of the country. Hitler published Mein Kampf and his party formed the SS. General Pangulos disbanded the Greek parliament and took control of that country. Finally as the year drew to a close Pope Pius XI published an encyclical, Quas Primas (In the First).
The Pope responded to the spectres of growing nationalism, materialism and secularisation, with one clear message: Christ is the ultimate King. He ranks first. And that despite the machinations of those who had rejected Christ’s peace, Christ’s reign is complete and eternal. It is a reign of peace and profound love.
The Pope declared 1925 a holy year, one in which the kingdom of God was present in the hearts of faithful Christians all over the world. This is the mystery of God’s kingdom – it is present in the here and now, and it will also be realised sometime in the future. Jesus is the King of the past, present and future.
This is part of what Pope Pius XI wanted to have the world’s Christians ponder that year and every subsequent year. In his encyclical he instituted the feast of Christ the King, which we celebrate on the last Sunday of each church year. In 2011 the feast will be on November 27.
Jesus the King of the Universe
Did you know that this is a proper title for Jesus? The feast day is officially named the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – how awesome! But that is what he is, as we say in the liturgy, “through him ALL things were made.” And that includes not only the visible things of creation, space, the planets and stars and our earth, but everything invisible as well.
Jesus the King of our Hearts, Minds and Wills
Jesus himself said that the kingdom of God is not something visible. “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’. For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:21) He also said that his kingdom is not of this world, or not from here. (John 18:36)
The Pope extended on this when he wrote that:
“Christ is said to reign ‘in the hearts of men,’ both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is the truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our freewill as to incite us to the most noble endeavours. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his ‘charity which exceedeth all knowledge.’ And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ.”
What is expected of his loyal subjects?
Last month on the Queen’s visit to Australia many people responded by going out to see her as she was driven by, or watching her on the news. People like to follow the lives of the royal family in popular magazines; some debate the relevance of a monarchy for us today.
Christ asks more of us in his kingdom. His kingdom is not about appearances as one of “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. (Romans 14:17) Thus, our task as subjects is to do what we can to help bring justice, peace and joy to whomever we come across in our work, home, social, and community life. St Mary of the Cross MacKillop put it simply when she said, “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
Throughout the history of Christianity and up to today, wherever we see people working to maintain peace, care for the poor, fight injustice, and gather in worship, we see the power of Christ’s reign.
This is what the Pope wrote about the quest for power as we are used to seeing it played out on the news and in our lives every day:
“We saw men and nations cut off from God, stirring up strife and discord and hurrying along the road to ruin and death.”
And about submitting to Christ as Lord:
“A nation is happy when its citizens are happy….Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ!
Peace and happiness will reign on earth to the extent that we let ourselves be governed by Christ.
Author: Marilyn Rodrigues
This article is featured in the November 2011 edition of the CathFamily eMagazine.