Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
John 18: 33b-37
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me.
What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
I heard it for the first time—as a Jesuit novice at the Cathedral of St. Paul — on the Solemnity of Christ the King. From the momentous first notes of the Kyrie, Mozart’s Coronation Mass strikes the senses as heralding something very special. Each movement begins with sharp thrusts from voices, strings, brass, percussion, and woodwinds alike. One cannot not be affected by the mass setting. Yes! I believe! Vivat Christus Rex! Today would be a good day to listen to this piece of sacred music, all the better if experienced in the Mass itself.
When the rush of beauty subsides, however, we are left wondering how to celebrate such a solemnity. Crowning Him ‘king’ seems like an anachronistic ritual to modern, western sensibilities. We do not elevate our elected leaders to such exaltation, nor do we entrust ourselves unreservedly to their protection. And does Christ not dismiss His disciples’ attempts to give Him earthly glory and recognition? How then are we to “crown Him with many crowns,” as the familiar hymn says?
A recently-ordained Jesuit priest was asked to preach on Christ the King last year to a group of high school students, and struggled to convey its importance and application for today. What he came to in prayer was surely of God, for it was simple, clear, and it cut to the heart of the matter: We crown Christ King every day that we live our life in faith, hope, and love for Him.
May the grace today be to claim Him our king in both Sacrament and by our Christian witness. Vivat Christus Rex!
—Joe Simmons, S.J.
Lord, when we listen to your Spirit and rest in your love, we partake of your kingdom. We are awed by your majesty and humbled by your humanity. We bow to you, the King of the Universe; we look away as your crown of thorns streams with blood. We praise you as the supreme authority of time immortal; we remove our sandals as you wash your disciples’ feet. You are Savior and Servant – our amazing God!
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!