PORTLAND---The Catholic Church ends the liturgical year with the Solemnity of Christ the King, a celebration of the victory of Christ and fulfilling God’s dream of bringing the world together in peace and justice. By our baptism, we are invited to join the Risen Lord in making this Kingdom, this vision of life, real and present in our world.
This special feast, also known as the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is held on the last Sunday prior to Advent. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to respond to growing nationalism and secularism.
“It was a time of great unrest in Europe and the world as governments grounded in atheistic principles grew hostile to religious people and ideas,” said Bishop Robert Deeley during his homily at a Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday. “In the teaching of Pius XI, the establishment of this feast was a reminder that Christ reigns as king forever. Governments and ideologies come and go. The action of this Pope gave hope to Catholics and other religious people who were being persecuted. He reminded people that Christ reigns forever because He ‘reigns in the hearts of men and women.’”
Bishop Deeley told those gathered at the Cathedral and those participating from home via livestream that it was a worthwhile reminder at that time and still is today.
“Our own nation is in a state of civil unrest. We are confronted again by the curse of racism and we are struggling with overcoming a pandemic in which we want to keep our families and loved ones safe as we try to keep the economy alive. We do well in these challenges to turn to the Lord, whom, we believe reigns over every people and nation.”
The end of the liturgical year provides the opportunity for believers to consider if they have put Jesus, the king and judge of history and the universe, center in our lives.
“(Jesus’) kingship is both a reason for hope as we see him as shepherd, and a challenge when we see him as judge. Jesus’ way of judgment is found in his way of life. He asks nothing that he himself did not show to us throughout his life,” the bishop told the assembly. “Jesus cares for us. My friends, if we are going to understand the Gospel, we first have to know Jesus. We have to see the way in which he has entered into our lives, and is present to us, and helps us.”
And Bishop Deeley said we have to recognize that we are not as independent as we might think, and that we need one another and the Lord Jesus who gives us to each other.
“The Gospel asks us to see all the children of God as related to us. It asks us to see ourselves as part of the human family. Jesus speaks of us as brothers and sisters. The passage from the Gospel of Matthew we heard today, my friends, is a concrete call to live out what Jesus taught as the Second Commandment. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ When we do, we renew our world, and help it to reflect better the love of God found in the way we extend ourselves for each other. And when we live as Jesus showed us in his own life, we live the Gospel, and we find ourselves counted among the sheep and not the goats.”