How does Christ the King rule?

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on the Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Christ the King and the Catholic Distance University Annual Gala, at the Westin Hotel in Arlington.

Why is this Solemnity of Christ the King celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church Year? Because it proclaims a fundamental fact, indeed a basic truth: the Lord Christ Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of everything: of all creation and of all life. All points towards Him, all leads to Him, all is fulfilled by Him and through Him and in Him. Today's second reading proclaims this fact, this truth: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.'" Indeed, He is the "ruler of the Kings of the earth," Christ Jesus is the King of the Universe.

Even more to the point, what does it mean to call Christ "the King"? To call Christ "the King" is to proclaim the fact and the truth just summarized: He is the beginning and the end, He is our all, He is the core and center of our lives, if, in fact, we are His disciples and followers.

But still, we could ask: why "King"? Does not that title conjure up "domination" and "subjugation"? Yes, Christ is the Lord, Dominus in Latin, so the very word implies dominion: His dominion over all creation and peoples. But, here is the essential difference: The dominion of Christ is not one of earthly power; Jesus Christ does not rule with the authority of force and fear.

Yet, Christ is the King; He does rule. How? Christ the King rules with truth: the truth that sets us free from the enslavements of falsehood, lies, evil and sin. In His conversation with Pontius Pilate, recorded in the Gospel according to Saint John proclaimed in our hearing moments ago, Jesus answered: "You say I am a King. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Yes, Christ the King rules with truth. Are we really His disciples and followers, belonging to Him because we listen to the truth which He is and which He proclaims? Are we seeking the truth? Where? In God's living Word, the Scriptures; in the Living Tradition of the Church which Jesus Christ founded, in the official teachings of His Church to which He guaranteed the unfailing assistance of the Holy Spirit.

We are united here tonight by our dedication to and support for Catholic Distance University. Her mission is unique in Catholic higher education. CDU harnesses technology in order to form and to educate learners worldwide in theology and faith development for the growth of faith within the learners. CDU teaches the truth which Christ is and proclaims, CDU is faithful to the teachings of the Church, so that those who learn will be rooted and formed as authentic followers, zealous witnesses, heralds of Christ, true missionary disciples, CDU enables all who are formed to proclaim the Joy of the Gospel, living that gospel in joy!

Christ the King rules with charity. Among the truths which He proclaims is the clear affirmation: "Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me." (cf. Mt 25:40). The charity with which He rules is also His mercy. Soon, we shall observe an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, beginning on December 8, and ending on the Solemnity of Christ the King next year, on November 20. Mercy is not weak love, in fact, the love flowing from the Heart of Christ the King, His Mercy, is strong and enduring. It is love that is patient and persevering, love that is truthful and hope-filled, love that is self-giving and self-emptying, love that is sacrificial, like that of Christ.

Christ the King, rules with charity, with love and mercy. Are we really His disciples and followers? If so, do we witness to charity, to the love and mercy of Christ in our daily actions? Are we convincing heralds of mercy? Do we practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? Will we intensify our efforts to do so, using various agencies to channel our sacrificial service and aid, for example, Diocesan Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to name but several?

Christ the King rules with freedom, a freedom that is rooted in the truth and expressed by charity. He conquered evil, sin and eternal death, so that He could win freedom for us, His disciples and followers. Are we really His disciples and followers, living with that freedom which He won for us? We live in freedom, internally, as we strive with His grace to overcome temptations and thus avoid enslavement by sin. But today, there are strong indications that our external freedom to practice the faith in the public square is being restricted more and more. We must remain free to practice our faith in the public square, to propose what is good for humanity, never to impose.

Are we alert, are we united in our efforts to safeguard freedom of conscience, indeed, religious liberty, which is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the Constitution?

Yes, Christ is the King; of our private lives, of our public lives, of all we are and do, every day and everywhere!

Let us today reaffirm our choice and strengthen our commitment to live as His disciples and followers: in truth, in charity, in true freedom! "Yes, Lord Jesus, You are the center of my life! You are the beloved of my heart! Give me Your truth, Your charity, Your freedom, so that I may live with love for You and for all our brothers and sisters. Let my life proclaim: Jesus Christ, You are Lord, You are King, now and forever. Amen! Alleluia!"

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015