This is the week we admit we need to be thankful. It is also the week the Church year begins to hasten to a close with the Solemn Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Although this title may conjure up images of a cartoon favorite (He-Man/Prince Adam), we end the Church year by remembering how the Kingship of Jesus Christ is different than that of earthly kingships. The power and glory of our Lord, His Kingship, His Royalty are unlike any concept we know of here on earth by other rulers. His Majesty is perfectly one with His humility, mercy and love all because the Cross of Jesus is a throne. It is on the Cross that Jesus defines what sort of King he really is. The true King is one who gives His all until there is nothing more to give. The true King is one who suffers not only for us but also with us and in us. Unlike an earthly ruler who dispenses his/her mercy seated on a throne for their own gain, the Son of God pours out mercy on the world from His Holy Cross to gain us. And, as hundreds upon hundreds realized profoundly during last weekend's Eucharistic Devotions, He does this still in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It's what Pope Pius XI reminds us of when he instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 for the Universal Church in his encyclical Quas Primas. According to one of my professors, Pope Pius connected the denial of Christ as King to the rise of secularism. At the time, many Christians began to doubt Christ's authority and existence, as well as the Church's power to continue Christ's authority. The Christian world witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, today's feast was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed. In fact, it is still needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but instead have worsened. Pope Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects:
1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state
2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ
3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from this feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.
May we enter into this final week of the liturgical year with wills and hearts wanting to be led by the King of love and mercy! And...may we faithfully dare to share His Reign with all who gather around our tables, and especially those who will have no one to be with Thanksgiving Day.
Happy Thanksgiving...Get Ready, Advent is Coming!
To quote Fr. Byrider, “Be Happy and Grateful”.