Christ the King, the Power to Love

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, Cycle A, 26 November 2023
Ezekiel 14:11-12, 15-17 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28 ><}}}*> Matthew 25:31-46
Detail of Jesus Christ at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey; photo from wikipedia.org.

We now come to the final Sunday celebration of the year, the Solemnity of Christ the King. See how we close the liturgical calendar celebrating Christ’s kingship, only to open it anew next Sunday with Advent Season in preparation for Christmas, the birth of the King of kings.

Far from the connotations of power and authority of kings of the world, Christ’s kingship is more pastoral in nature by taking its cue from the image of a shepherd prevalent in the ancient Middle Eastern culture. In fact, Jesus is more perfect than any shepherd being the Good Shepherd himself, the fulfillment of the promise of God we heard in the first reading who would come to personally tend his flock.

As I prayed over our readings of this Solemnity which is one of the youngest feasts we have in the church at less than 100 years old since its introduction in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, my thoughts wandered during that first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when churches were closed and public Masses were prohibited.

Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Christ the King celebration in our former parish during pandemic, November 2020.

Right on the first Sunday when lockdown was imposed, we started our weekly “motorized procession” of the Blessed Sacrament around our former parish in Bulacan. I was so moved at the piety of our parishioners who knelt on the streets whenever we passed by.

We continued the practice until the Solemnity of Christ the King on that year of 2020. As usual, the people knelt on the streets when we passed by with the Blessed Sacrament. Even passengers of buses and other vehicles that chanced upon our procession paid homage to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos, March 2020.

Looking back to those days during my prayer periods this week, I realized that it was on that first year of the pandemic when we had the most meaningful liturgical celebrations in the Church when people felt intensely the need for God, when they clearly had Jesus alone as King and Lord.

Everyone’s faith was put to test as we were all gripped in fears and uncertainties with the deadly effects of COVID virus. Almost every family prayed the Rosary daily or nightly, so many trying to sneak inside churches to attend Mass celebrations. Of course, there were still some who went on their evil ways during those difficult times with the tokhang still implemented while those in power shamelessly grabbed the opportunity to rake in millions of pesos from corruption at the expense of the poor and suffering people.

When we recall that year 2020 of the pandemic, it was at that time we experienced Christ’s Second Coming as everyday was a judgment day, the end of the world — though not entirely fearful because it was also during that time we felt closest to God in Jesus our Lord and King!

Behind all those acts of kindness and goodness of the people are the immense love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ we have experienced in the recovery of infected loved ones or in the simple negative results of our COVID tests.

It was during those days when we experienced and felt Jesus truly present in us and among us that we simply radiated him on many occasions. That first year of the pandemic proved to many of us that being good, being kind, being helpful would never destroy nor diminish our person but had actually strengthened us as individuals and as a community. Recall how the “community pantry” caught the whole country on fire in just a matter of weeks when a young lady started it in their neighborhood at Maguinhawa Street, UP Village in Quezon City.

When families and communities banded together in love and kindness to help the poor and needy, the sick and those who have lost loved ones, the experience did not pulverize them but actually crystallized them as family or friends or neighbors. Walang nadurog sa pagdadamayan bagkus nabuo ang lahat ng nagtulungan!

That is the kingship of Jesus Christ. His power and authority were never meant to destroy us. In fact, when he came to us, he showed us and made us experience that the power and authority of his kingship is found not in force but in love and mercy that sadly many see these days as weaknesses.

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

Photo by Ms. Marivic Tribiana, April 2020.

Christ the King today reminds us that true authority and power lead to humility which is more than being lowly but also of seeing the other person as another human in need, vulnerable and weak. Being humble is not only accepting our humanity but recognizing the humanity of those around us who need to be respected, loved and cared too.

Moreover, Christ the King reminds us that whatever authority and power we have is a sharing in God’s power and authority; hence, these must be used to help others, not lord over them. True power and authority lead to compassion, enabling us to feel the sufferings of others that move us to do something for them like Jesus.

This is what St. Paul reminds us in the second reading: the kingship of Jesus Christ – his power and authority – are a sharing in God. Unlike the worldly kings, Christ’s kingship is intimately related to the rule of God and ultimately subjected to the Father that is why it is transformative and performative to borrow one of Pope Benedict XVI’s favorite terms.

Artwork by Fr. Marc Ocariza based on Ms. Tribiana’s photo, April 2020.

The Kingship of Jesus Christ is the power to love, the most potent force in the universe. Yes, there are still evil and sin in the world today but soon, they shall be finally removed in Christ’s return as king. The present moment calls us to see Jesus in everyone we meet so that we act like him in loving service to others.

Notice how Jesus ended today his teachings at the temple area with a parable of the judgment of nations where people are separated according to their deeds. At the end of time, that is what Jesus will ask and judge us: how much have we loved like him? What have we done in this world, in life?

For us to better answer that, let us keep in mind what Jesus had done and still does to us and for us, of how much he loves us as our King and Protector. Recall the countless times he poured us his love for us. The moment we see his kingship in God’s way, then we follow Christ’s power and authority in the name of love and mercy, kindness and gentleness. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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