I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last Sunday of the Church year! Next Sunday it begins anew with the First Sunday of Advent.
The Solemnity of Christ the King can’t help but be tremendously powerful. One can’t help but be moved to humility and awe before the King of Heaven. On this day, of all other days, I always feel as though a veil has been lifted from my eyes. I see Christ as my King, God, and Creator, and I see myself as His creature, created out of nothing, entirely dependent upon Him. And although I feel like a speck of dust before Him, I rest secure in His love, His goodness, His graciousness, His generosity, and His peace. I know that it is by and for Him that I exist at all.
Today in Mariology class, we spent most of our class talking about the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Going into the class this morning, I was completely unaware of what riches were there to be mined from this single dogma. Of course, it is about Mary and God’s singular extraordinary grace upon her, but beyond what it tells us about Mary is what it tells us about God and His very special love for every single one of us! He wants to be in a special, intimate relationship with each of us just as He did with Mary. Like Mary, we are each unique persons, with our very own role in God’s creation. He loves each of us as completely and particularly as if we were the only person in the universe. What He did for Mary is a sign of the tremendous love and power he offers to each of us.
And our professor pointed out something very important: human beings don’t come into the world on their own, and then God looks down and says, “Oh, here’s another one… Hm, am I going to love it or not? Maybe I’ll decide once I see what kind of creature it is and how well it behaves.” That’s not how it is. We come into being because of His love. His love brings us to life, and it sustains us in life. His love is a given, and it is a completely free given. How we respond to it is up to us (because love must be freely given on our part as well).
This Solemnity of Christ the King is a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize and respond to His love. To reaffirm that He is indeed our King–our King who loves us and gives us our being. To reaffirm that we choose to be His subjects–subjects full of dignity and freedom and love given in return. There is no humiliation, no degradation, no oppression, in being subject to the King of Heaven.
And yet so many people in our world reject and despise Him because they hate the idea of being subject to a King. That’s almost as true of this country as of all of the more blatantly secularist nations of the west. For all of the United States’ famous (or infamous) religiosity, we Americans tend to be intensely independent, individualistic, and self-autonomous. You don’t have too search too deeply to realize that much of the religion in this country is really about being prosperous in this world. At best, it is often confined to Sundays, holidays, and church walls. Over 230 years after obtaining our independence as a nation, “King” is still a four-letter word in this country.
And because we are all part of this world, it can be very tempting to just go along with that. But we mustn’t. The truth is, there is no such thing as life without a king. Rejecting the true King does not free us. It only makes us subject to other “kings”–be they rulers of nations, heads of corporations, media moguls, pastors of feel-good mega-churches, or our own flaws. “Kings” are a dime a dozen in this world, and they all play right into the hands of the “king” of Hell.
Make no mistake: the devil is the only one who benefits from us not serving Christ the King.
So, on this holy solemn feast day, let us make a radical declaration, not of independence, but of dependence. Let us declare with all our hearts, “I am a subject of Christ the King, the Source of all life, love, and freedom–and of no other!”
And then–here’s the really challenging part–let us pledge to live every day of the upcoming new year as if we really meant it.