Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
November 21, 2021
The Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
~ Psalm 29 (28): 10-11
The annual celebration of Christ the King is a relatively new feast in the long history of the Catholic Church. In the aftermath of WWI (from 1914 to 1918), people were hungry, the country was in political turmoil, and there was a growing sense of secularism and atheism. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925, with his encyclical Quas primas, reminding us that while governments come and go, Christ is the true “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16). Jesus Christ “is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind” (Quas primas, 7).
The Church calls us to acknowledge Christ’s kingship with our whole lives. He must reign in our minds. He must reign in our wills. He must reign in our hearts. He must reign in our bodies. Originally this feast was celebrated on the last Sunday of October, a week before All Saints’ Day and four weeks before advent, to remind people that Jesus Christ is not only King of this world, He is also the eternal King, glorified by the saints in heaven. Pope Pius felt that this date seemed the most convenient for its intended purpose of honoring the Kingship of Christ.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI, wishing to give this feast more meaning, changed the name of the celebration to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of All” and gave the feast the highest rank, a “solemnity.” At the same time, the date of the solemnity was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, paving the way for Advent.
Though we are faced with social, political, and economic uncertainties, one thing remains sure: we can be grateful for the chance to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King each year. The world needs out witness to His rule over all things.
Jesus asks us to allow him to become our king…But we must not forget that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. He will give new meaning to our life – at times even put us to difficult tests through our mistakes and our sins – merely on the condition that we not follow the logics of the world and of its “kings.”
~ Pope Francis, Angelus, November 25, 2018