Summary: We must know where Christ the King rules, and with whom.
Christ the King
Extraordinary Form 2014
Where does the King rule?
About five hundred years ago, a young German priest, recent recipient of a doctoral degree, visited Rome on pilgrimage. The Church has always gone through cycles of decay and resurgence. There had been several such cycles in the fifteen centuries before him. He arrived in Rome at perhaps the most corrupt period in history. The morals of the Roman hierarchy and clergy were in terrible condition. The priest had been somewhat naive. His philosophy training was almost nil; he knew nothing of St. Thomas Aquinas, but he was one of the greatest Scripture scholars in the world. When he returned to Germany, he confused moral corruption with doctrinal corruption and began a movement that would tear northern Europe away from the rest of Christendom. Martin Luther intended reformation, like Benedict and Catherine and St. Francis Assisi before him. What he got was revolution, fueled by the ambitions of political rulers. The true reformation occurred around the Council of Trent, some six decades later, and began a missionary impulse that brought Christ and the Church to Asia and the Americas, by names we know like St. Francis Xavier, Junipero Serra and the North American martyrs.
Fast forward to the eighteenth century. Corruption in France–among the aristocracy, the monarchy, and the clergy, all upper class France. This was the time of the so-called Enlightenment, when Voltaire showed his contempt for the ancien regime and especially the Church, with his battle cry ecrasez l’infame. He wanted to destroy it all. Then there was Rousseau, who thought to teach the rest of the world how to raise children, while he himself left all his illegitimate children at the door of the orphanage. Let’s not forget the Marquis de Sade, who egged on the Revolution from his jail cell in the Bastille. Again, revolution. Again, Catholic martyrs as much of the clergy bowed to the revolutionary government and the true clergy and religious went to the guillotine. But out of this chaos, decades later, the Church was resurgent, giving birth to new religious orders like the Marianists and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who have done so much for this mission territory of Texas.
Fast forward again to twentieth century Mexico. Fueled by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and the Masonic movement in their country, Mexican atheists passed anti-clerical laws, forcing priests and religious to go underground in order to minister. Religious schools and churches were forced to close. Persecution was everywhere. The government filmed the priests before their execution, hoping to catch them recanting their faith. Thus we have the film of Padre Miguel Pro extending his hands in a cross and shouting Viva Cristo Rey. Long live Christ the King! Again, we in South Texas have been the beneficiaries, as priests, bishops and religious fled Mexico and found welcome and shelter here.
Where does the King reign? Where does He rule? St. John and St. Paul have it exactly right. Jesus did not win his kingship by conquering mighty armies, by shedding the blood of His enemies. He taught us to love our enemies and pray for all who hate us. The martyrs learned that lesson, and their witness converted many of their persecutors, beginning with St. Paul. No. Jesus won his crown by the shedding of His own blood for us. He lived and died in love, as we must do if we are to follow Him.
When Jesus was crucified the official charge and title was placed above His head: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. We must remember that Jesus was a Jewish king, like David and Solomon and all the jerks (less a couple) who followed them. A queen ruled on a throne near theirs. But it was not a consort, a wife, or a concubine, for the Israelite kings had many of these. No, the king ruled with his mother at his side. There, on Calvary, where the King reigned on a throne, not a cross, not an instrument of execution, His mother stood next to Him, offering Him up as the perfect sacrifice. And, as the Book of Revelations tells us, where the Lamb rules, where He stands as if slain, His mother, whom Scripture calls “the woman clothed with the sun” also rules. And they intercede for us as we undergo our trials on earth. Some day we will see them. We will see the mother and the Son, the Lamb who stands with the five wounds in his hands and feet and side, a permanent reminder of how much God loves us.
Where does the King reign? He began to reign on earth when His mother, our mother, in almost the first words we hear from her lips, said “behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you have spoken.” Jesus lived in Mary’s mind and will even before He took flesh in her womb. Her acceptance of God’s will was the perfect response to the Creator’s intent to make man and woman in His own image and likeness. Because of her “yes,” Jesus could be the perfect image and likeness of God, and He could draw us to Himself on Calvary, so that the Spirit could perfect His image in us.