Most of us who grew up in this country were taught in American History that what made the United States of America great was that this country was founded on freedom and democracy. We have a Bill of Rights and a Constitution that guarantee certain rights that cannot be taken away. And our leaders are elected by us, the people. We are not governed by the monarchs of Europe. However, today’s feast is a reminder that ultimately we are not citizens of this world but adopted children in the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is our King. But what does this mean?
Proclaiming Christ as King does not make us any less patriotic but rather asserts His supreme sovereignty over our lives while we are in this world. Of course, we must always choose the values of our faith over partisan politics, but the real meaning of this feast has very little to do with politics. A question to ask ourselves today is: Who or what is ruling my life? Now it can be easy to think that everything is going fine . . . “I go to church, so that’s something good at least.” Yes, attending Mass is a good thing to do, but our Lord tells us that at the Final Judgment, we will be judged by our attitudes and actions toward the “least of the brethren” (Mt 25:31-46). We also must remember that the King has an Enemy, and we must understand how this enemy operates. Satan beguiles us — deceives us — as he tempts us in subtle ways to overthrow the reign of God in our lives. And how does he do this? He often perverts good things in our lives in order that our lives will be ruled by these creatures instead of by the Creator Himself.
For example, responsible consumption of alcohol is not evil, and the Bible even praises moderation in drink. However, if an adult beverage becomes the thing you look forward to the most, maybe it is ruling your life. Technology is good, but if you are constantly checking your iPhone, updating your FaceBook page — or worse — if you resort to looking at online pornography, maybe it is ruling your life. Leadership at your work, at school, in social organizations and in the church is good, but if it has become a way to gain power over others and causes you to judge everyone else as less important than yourself, then maybe your ego is ruling your life.
The good news is that, even though we know Christ the King will come back at some point in time and that we will be judged, in this life we can still invite Him back into our lives to rule — while there is still time. When we look at the crucifix, we see His first crown, a crown of thorns. We see His arms outstretched — not in judgment — but out of love. We know that when we confess our sins to our King, He comforts us with His Divine Mercy. Our King’s rule is of mercy and peace, and He offers us all we need in this life to be faithful to Him, so that on Judgment Day, we can hope to hear the words from our King, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).
Reflection by Fr. Nolan Lowry, STL, pastor of St. Leo the Great Parish in Centerville, Texas.