2010-11-21 - The Feast of Christ the King . . .

A common impression is that people in ancient times were ancient, and that mediaeval people were middle aged. It is rather like imagining Victorian people as sepia colored because they appear that way in daguerreotypes, when in fact they loved bright colors. People ancient and mediaeval were precocious by our standards, and their median age was much younger than ours. Joan of Arc was only 17 in 1429 when she wrote to King Henry VI who was 8. Being illiterate, she dictated the letter, though she was able to sign her name at the end. Of course the boy king had regents, including John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, to whom she also refers. But she begins boldly: “JESUS, MARY. King of England, render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood.” St. Joan spent her short life reminding kings to be true kings. Henry VI would come to be regarded by many as saintly, unlike Joan’s own king, Charles VII. But she gave Charles some backbone after their first meeting at Chinon when she recognized him despite his disguise.
   Since we are all part of a “royal priesthood” through baptism into Christ, we have to keep reminding ourselves of our royal dignity. Everything and everyone is governed by Christ: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-17).
   The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to remind the world plagued with atheism from the Soviet Union to Mexico, that God rules the universe and everything in it. It is now fittingly celebrated at the end of the liturgical year, like a flame burst bright just before it goes out. Then begins the new cycle, when Advent prepares for the arrival of the Heavenly Kingdom on earth.
    In the third century, Origen wrote: “Whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws—God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him…. Just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist.”

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