POPE BENEDICT XVI’S REFLECTION ON CHRIST THE KING YEAR A.
23 November 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. We know from the Gospels that Jesus refused the title of king when it was meant in the political sense, by the standards of the “rulers of the Gentiles” (Mt 20: 25). On the other hand, during his Passion, he claimed a unique kingship before Pilate, who explicitly asked him “So you are a king?”, and Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king” (Jn 18: 37); however just previously he had declared, “My kingship is not of this world” (Jn 18: 36). Christ’s kingship is in fact a revelation and actuation of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice. The Father entrusted to the Son the mission of giving mankind eternal life by loving it to the point of supreme sacrifice and, at the same time, conferred upon him the power of judging humanity, since he made himself Son of man, like us in all things (cf. Jn 5: 21-22, 26-27).
Today’s Gospel insists precisely on the universal kingship of Christ the Judge, with the stupendous parable of the Last Judgment, which St Matthew placed immediately before the Passion narrative (25: 31-46). The images are simple, the language is popular, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and about the criterion by which we will be evaluated. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25: 35) and so forth. Who does not know this passage? It is part of our civilization. It has marked the history of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, the multiple charitable and social organizations. In fact, the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but it brings to fulfilment all the good that, thank God, exists in man and in history. If we put love for our neighbour into practice in accordance with the Gospel message, we make room for God’s dominion and his Kingdom is actualized among us. If, instead, each one thinks only of his or her own interests, the world can only go to ruin.
Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of honours and appearances but, as St Paul writes, it is “righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm 14: 17). The Lord has our good at heart, that is, that every person should have life, and that especially the “least” of his children may have access to the banquet he has prepared for all. Thus he has no use for the forms of hypocrisy of those who say: “Lord, Lord” and then neglect his commandments (cf. Mt 7: 21). In his eternal Kingdom, God welcomes those who strive day after day to put his Word into practice. For this reason the Virgin Mary, the humblest of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. Let us once again entrust ourselves to her heavenly intercession with filial trust, to be able to carry out our Christian mission in the world.
20 November 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated today, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Since the announcement of his birth, the Only-begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, was described as “king” in the Messianic sense, that is, heir to the throne of David in accordance with the Prophets’ promise, for a Kingdom that would have no end (cf. Lk 1: 32-33).
The kingship of Christ remained completely hidden until he was 30 years old, years spent in an ordinary life in Nazareth. Then, during his public life, Jesus inaugurated the new Kingdom which “does not belong to this world” (Jn 18: 36), and finally, with his death and Resurrection, he fully established it.
Appearing to the Apostles after he had risen, he said: “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28: 18): this power flows from the love that God manifested in its fullness in the sacrifice of his Son. The Kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to the people of every epoch so that those who believe in the incarnate Word “may not die but (may) have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).
Therefore, he proclaimed precisely in the last Book of the Bible, Revelation: “I am the Alpha and the Omega… the beginning and the end” (Rv 22: 13).
“Christ: Alpha and Omega” is the title of the closing paragraph of Part I of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council, promulgated 40 years ago.
In that beautiful passage which borrows some words from the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, we read: “The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the centre of mankind, the joy of all hearts and the fulfilment of all aspirations. It is he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead. Animated and drawn together in his Spirit we press onwards on our journey towards the consummation of history which fully corresponds to the plan of his love: “to unite all things in him, things in Heaven and things on earth'” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 45).
In light of the centrality of Christ, Gaudium et Spes interprets the condition of contemporary men and women, their vocation and their dignity, and also the milieus in which they live: the family, culture, the economy, politics, the international community. This is the Church’s mission, yesterday, today and for ever: to proclaim and witness to Christ so that the human being, every human being, may totally fulfil his or her vocation.
May the Virgin Mary, whom God uniquely associated with the kingship of his Son, obtain that we welcome him as the Lord of our lives, in order to cooperate faithfully with the coming of his Kingdom of love, justice and peace.
SEE AS WELL:
SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING YEAR A 2020 MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS HERE.