The Unfolding Mystery of Christ, King of the Universe
I grew up in our church which celebrated this Sunday as the Feast of Christ the King, a feast instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In the years following World War I, though war had ended, Pope Pius grasped that true peace among nations had not become a reality. His desire, in establishing this feast, was to focus the faithful beyond their own nationalistic agendas to be united in Christ’s kingship as the Prince of Peace.
Personally, this feast only invoked images of Jesus as the king sitting royally on a throne crowned and in glorious robes. Images very much like my childhood perception of God as an old man with long white hair and beard sitting on a throne in the clouds. These images of Christ, the King and God on a heavenly throne had little or no connection with the world. For me, they instilled a sense of a God who sat in judgment, distant from humanity and divorced from creation.
Pope Paul VI, in 1969, revised the title of the feast to Christ, King of the Universe. This revision along with our broadening worldview and greater awareness of our global reality has helped to shift perception from nationalism and royalty to God in the midst of and one with all creation.
Our readings this Sunday call us to this deeper reality. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul speaks of Christ as the firstborn of all creation, with all things being created in and through Christ. Christ holding all created things together is the very fabric and connectivity of all creation and all living beings. Yet the gospel brings us back to reality that our sinful, human weakness blinds us to the presence and reality of the Christ of God and of the universe. The ‘rulers sneering’ and the ‘soldiers jeering’ remind me of the cries we hear today from Climate Deniers yelling ‘Prove it!’ Those who deny our climate crisis truly seem disconnected in their spirituality to our God and to the Christ who dwells in and throughout all of creation.
The Jesuit writer and mystic, Anthony de Mello, in his book Taking Flight captured this sin of disconnection. “Once upon a time there was a forest where the birds sang by day and the insects by night. Trees flourished, flowers bloomed, and all manner of creatures roamed about in freedom. And all who entered there were led to Solitude, which is the home of God, who dwells in Nature’s silence and Nature’s beauty. But then the Age of Unconsciousness arrived, when it became possible for people to construct buildings a thousand feet high and to destroy rivers and forests and mountains in a month. So houses of worship were built from the wood of the forest trees and from the stone under the forest soil. Pinnacle, spire, and minaret pointed toward the sky, the air was filled with the sound of bells, with prayer and chant and exhortation. And God was suddenly without a home.”
Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato Sí, calls for our ecological conversion and a renewed spirituality which truly embraces Christ, King of the Universe. “The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that ‘contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves’.” (233)
Anthony de Mello, SJ, Taking Flight- A Book of Story Meditations, Image Books Doubleday, New York, 1990.
Sr. Margaret Magee
FAN Board President
This week, take a walk outside in nature and look for God in the leaves, the sounds of birds and squirrels, in the sun and wind.
May we open our hearts to the love of our God and feel it’s immense presence as a constant warmth, we pray…
May we host a deep respect of others, of their opinions, their situations, their love, their hopes and remember they are created in the image of Christ, King of the Universe, we pray…