Because of the King on the Cross

Today Catholic worshipers across the globe are commemorating the Solemnity of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI established this feast day in 1925 in the wake of what was supposed to be the “war to end all wars” as a way to combat secularism. We need this feast day now, more than ever.We end the liturgical year meditating on a King who died without a Kingdom in this world, a King assassinated by political authorities who found his message of love and redemption deeply threatening.

I struggled to write words to express what it means that Christ has dominion over our lives. Instead, I found the words in today’s reading, in a letter St. Paul wrote hundreds of years ago from a prison to the Colossians. I found an image painted nearly  400 years ago, by Diego Velázquez, that shows us both Christ’s human suffering and His transcendent divinity.

When I read Paul’s words and heard them at Mass Saturday evening, they burrowed into my heart.The Colossians had been converted to Christianity. But they were being pressured to accept false doctrines; so are we. I encourage you to to read these words out loud, and slowly. Christ explains everything. We exist because He gazes at us with immeasurable love.

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.

He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

  • Anonymous

    This day means more to me than Thanksgiving. Thank you for your post.

  • Sandy C.

    Allison, A very large copy of that painting hangs over the altar at the Old Cathedral in downtown St. Louis (where the crucifix normally would be.) It's magnificent, as is the Cathedral itself. I think it's the oldest Catholic cathedral west of the Mississippi. We had a visiting priest yesterday who expressed very well the contradiction between Christ as King and all other kings. The painting is a wonderful reminder.

  • Allison

    Anon: I am so glad you found it meaningful. Sandy C: Wow. Thanks. I have a good friend who is studying in St. Louis this semester. I just sent her the link and hope she visits the cathedral if she hasn't already.

  • Stefanie

    Today, at Children's Liturgy, as we discussed what kings do (an interesting concept for U.S. kids!) — a boy defined a king as "someone who has lots of servants to do what he wants"Thus encouraged, we talked about Jesus — the King wants to save his servants from death…by dying on the cross for us. He is King; He is the Servant of all. In His Name, we Christians are to serve others…but He showed us the way first. The children are always amazed by the death of Jesus — listening to gospel readings about it always makes them very quiet. But it is wonderful to contemplate paradise together! …oh, we also learned to sing, "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" (I used it for the refrain of today's Responsorial Psalm 122. I noted that the children sang it with much more gusto than their parents later did at the end of Mass!