We’ve made it through the long stretch of Ordinary Time I talked about in The O-Word, back in June.
It’s my prayer that we all used that time to allow God to show us a little more of God’s own version of Ordinary, and that we let go a little more of the human version of the word – and that this process will continue in January, once Christmastide has run its course and the liturgical color is green again.
Today, though, we’re in white, for the final Sunday in this church year – an occasion known as the Feast of Christ the King – also known as Christ the King Sunday.
Umm, Baldy, isn’t every Sunday Christ the King Sunday?
An excellent point, reader. If Christ is truly our King, why on earth would we need a special Sunday to remind us of a truth we live out every day of our lives?
And, of course, the answer lies in the question: the reality is we don’t live out this truth, every day of our lives – so a special Sunday helps remind us of what we’re called to, and that we need to take steps to move closer to this ideal.
And according to Wikipedia, that’s exactly the idea behind this feast. Pope Pius XI introduced Christ the King Sunday to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar in 1925, in response to growing nationalism and secularism in his church – and perhaps to remind Italians that while Mussolini was in charge of their country, Christ is still King of the Universe. Apparently, Lutherans, Anglicans and other Protestant churches picked up on this vibe as well, as it has become a fixture on many denominations’ liturgical calendars.
Now, on the surface, I’d expect that Americans (and other folks who live in republics where the head of state is elected) have a bit of trouble with Christ the King Sunday. If your nation is built on a history of throwing off the yoke of a despotic monarch, you might have trouble calling anyone your king.
We Canadians have it much easier in this area, don’t we? After all, we live in a monarchy, so we’re quite accustomed to using The K-Word. (Right now, it’s The Q-Word, but the principle’s the same.)
But does the reality of the Kingdom of Canada affect our understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven?
In a constitutional monarchy, the king gets all the glory, but the people get all the power. Parliament runs the country in the name of the king and on the king’s behalf, but not necessarily according to the king’s will.
And I think a lot of us run our lives in a similar fashion – we declare Jesus our king with our lips, and then live however we like.
The constitutional monarchy is a pretty good way to run the country, but it’s a terrible way to run the Christian life.
Jesus is to be our absolute monarch, not our constitutional monarch, and He invites us to give Him our absolute obedience.
And we don’t need to fear that idea, because He is absolutely incorruptible, absolutely competent, absolutely loving, absolutely forgiving, absolutely kind and absolutely just. We can be absolutely certain that our King knows what’s best for us, that He has our best interests at heart and that He will work all things for our good.
So today, I want to challenge you to ponder what a life lived fully subject to Christ the King might look like, and what the next right step toward such a life looks like for you.
Peace be with you.