The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
November 25, 2018
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33). Jesus responds: “You say I am a king” (Jn 18:37). Jesus then declares that he was born to be king and came into this world to testify to the truth. This powerless and rejected man is the king of the universe.

My hometown is Lisbon, Portugal, located on the Tagus River. On the opposite bank of the river is a very big concrete statue of Christ the King, which faces the city. The Portuguese bishops vowed to build a monument dedicated to Christ the King if Portugal would be spared from entering World War II. The statue is a very big symbol that reminds people of Christ’s kingship but to some it is just a monument with a wonderful view of the city and river. Some people visit this monument as pilgrims and many others as tourists.

In the life of faith, we, too, can be either pilgrims or tourists. Either we know Christ with our hearts or we know him in a merely superficial way. We can have information about Jesus without knowing him personally.

In response to Pilate’s question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus poses another question, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” (Jn 18:34). Jesus demands a personal response. To learn the truth about his person requires a personal commitment.

Jesus declares himself a king: “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world” (Jn 18:37). However, he appears to be a powerless king, facing a death sentence. Majesty is hidden in his meekness. Glory is covered by his mantle of humility. Jesus’ power is a different kind of power, the power of love, which achieves its greatest manifestation on the cross.

The power of love is a hidden power. Worldly power is boastful and oppressive. The power of love is discreet and lenient. The power of the world subjugates, while Jesus’ power liberates.

Christ is the King of the Universe, which means that all things belong to him. However, for a king to be a king, he needs to be recognized as such. Jesus is the King of the Universe but he is still not the king of our hearts. The one thing needed for Jesus’ kingship is still missing: our recognition. We still need to subject our hearts to his sweet rule. We still need to surrender to his peaceful dominion. We still need to submit ourselves to his loving governance. Jesus’ gentle presence must dominate our lives.

Christ becomes the king of our lives through the mystery of the cross. We participate in his majesty through our acceptance of our personal cross. However, we have allowed ourselves to belong to other kings. Our hearts are still attached to what is not the true Lord of our lives. We can only embrace the cross when we accept the reality of our circumstances and who we are.

Jesus shares his royalty with us. Saint Peter’s first letter says: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood” (1 Pt 2:9). In Christ, everything is given to us: “[…] all belong to you, and you to Christ” (1 Cor 3:22-23). If we recognize Christ as our king, we can possess what he possesses. Everything is ours, even the stars in the sky

“You say I am a king” (Jn 18:37). May the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King encourage us to allow him to reign over our hearts.

We venerate Mary, who always recognized the kingship of her son in her Immaculate Heart, as the Queen of Heaven. May the consecration of our lives to her Immaculate Heart help us submit ourselves to the majesty of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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