Praise be to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!
The Feast of Christ the King, which we celebrate today, is a fairly recent addition to the liturgical calendar. It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The encyclical Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King), explains the reasons for establishing this great feast and explains the different aspects of Christ’s kingship. Pius XI realized that secularism was beginning to poison the hearts of the faithful and that more than ever, people were giving things other than God primacy in their lives. His message is unfortunately relevant to the current state of society as well.
We are constantly reminded of the fact that God’s plans and man’s plans are often as different as night and day. This is especially true for the idea of kingship. Jesus blew the Israelite idea of kingship out of the water, and for that many of them rejected Him. Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He lived in poverty and died the death of a criminal. He was exalted through the ultimate sacrifice; his throne is one of suffering. His crown was a crown of thorns.
King of the Universe, King of all Hearts
This part of Quas Primas stuck out to me: “He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.” And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ.”(7)
Jesus longs to reign as king of your heart. While most of us don’t worship other gods today, there are more subtle idols we worship every day – money, sex, popularity. What has a hold of your heart and is keeping you from giving it fully to the King of hearts?
Everyone has their own concept of heaven. What do the scriptures tell us awaits for us in the afterlife? A Wedding Feast!
The Father has prepared a wedding banquet with food and drink that satisfies our deepest hunger. The Father begs us to come to the feast. He has prepared the choicest food and has saved the best wine for last. The food at this banquet will never run out and we will never hunger or thirst again. He implores us “come to the feast.”
Many refuse this invitation. Some think it is too good to be true. Still others simply resent the Father and Son – they resent that everyone is called to the feast. (You could be with that person in heaven for all eternity.)
Others don’t even know about the feast. Why would they go to a wedding banquet for someone they don’t know? How can people respond to the invitation if they don’t know what awaits them at the Feast? How will they know it is worth leaving everything behind? This is why the Father sends us, his servants out to invite one and all to the feast. The Father is always calling “come to the feast!” Heaven sounds boring until you fall in love with God. Then, you want to spend all eternity praising Him.
What is the kingdom of God? Thy will be done. Those that refuse the invitation are those that refuse to do the will of God. “They made light of it” (his will) and went back to their own plans. They made light of getting to heaven, of their eternal salvation.
What is the real reason that people do not come to the feast? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of laying down their own plans, of not being in control, of being dependent on another. If I lay down my plow or leave my business for this wedding feast, what will happen? So, controlled by fear, we refuse the food and drink that truly satisfies. We go back to our work, work that provides finite food that will always leave us hungry. We flee from morality. Death is the gateway to heaven and that is the big unknown of our lives, the one thing we can’t escape from or control, no matter how hard we try.
Finally at the third beckoning of the Father, we respond to the invitation. He has invited all to come. Who is the bride of his Son? We find to our astonishment that we are. All of those who have refused to come have said no to the proposal of the Son, they have refused to come to their own wedding. We also discover that although everyone is invited, each must be prepared in a special way for the wedding feast. A bride cannot be without her dress. Heaven is an eternal marriage.
What is this wedding garment that we must be clothed in? We discover that this wedding banquet is in fact a Passover meal. The lamb has been slaughtered and its blood spread on the lintel of our bodies. The wedding garment is not so much our good deeds and the ways we have striven to be perfect, but the blood of the lamb which covers us, transforming us into Himself. We could never be cleansed or atone for our sins on our own, so our betrothed has stepped in for us, laying down his life so we can enter the heavenly wedding banquet.
Ultimately, how are we called to the wedding banquet? Through the cry of the Son – “I thirst!” His desire for us awakens our hunger for him. What is our deepest hunger? To be loved. Mere bread will not satisfy this hunger, so he gives us his very self for our food, his very blood for our drink – saving the best wine for last.
Are you ready to start living with your eyes focused on heaven?