Let Jesus Reign
The feast of Christ, King of the Universe, brings the Church's liturgical year to a close. We emphasize the supremacy of Christ over all things. All things fall under his reign. The reign of Christ is an essential message for our time. We sometimes get carried away with our human achievements and forget our ultimate, supernatural end, the kingdom of God we pray for in the Lord's prayer. Jesus is the one who subjects all created things to his reign. As we see in the liturgical and biblical texts for this Sunday's mass, Jesus' kingdom is not of this world; it exceeds its parameters. As the preface shows, his kingdom is "an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace." Our ultimate goal is to be part of this kingdom, and we pray that Jesus accepts us into it: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Lk 23: 42). How did he bring his reign into effect?
He reigns from the throne of the cross. He achieved victory over his kingdom's enemies from the wood of the cross. He reigns from the cross. What a paradox! But it is true; Jesus' reign derives from his sacrifice on the cross. From the cross, Jesus delivers us from slavery to sin and the darkness of death. All that the devil has stolen from us, Jesus restores by his kingship, by his reign from the cross. Now that he has restored us to our true identity, we have become willing subjects of his spiritual kingdom. We will now humbly render his majesty service and "ceaselessly proclaim his praise" (Preface: Christ, King of the Universe). But, to offer our service to him and praise him properly, we must first, in humility, yield our minds, our wills, and our actions to him.
Pope Pius XI says this of Christ's reign in his December 11, 1925, Encyclical, Quas Primas:
"He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls" (21).
It works in our favor that the national Thanksgiving holiday falls in the last days of the liturgical year. Maybe we should look back into the year and offer thanks to God for all the graces he has bestowed upon us, the Church, in all the mysteries of faith we have celebrated through the liturgical calendar. Let us thank God for all the Lord Jesus has done for us through his reign from the cross.
From a thankful heart,
Fr. Bernard, OP