The liturgical year transitions during the next two weekends, as Year C ends and Year A begins. We celebrate The Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, king of the universe (Christ the King) followed by The First Sunday of Advent. 

A little history lesson

The feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. The papal Encyclical, “Quas Primas,” gives witness to the foundation of Jesus as king. Pope Pius XI also explains the timely importance of the solemnity, one being, because of the “manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives” (Parag. 1), contributing to the lack of peace in the world. I recommend reading the encyclical. The providence is an awakening. 

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The early king 

The Books of Samuel chronicle the history of Israel’s leadership transitions from judges to kings. The Israelites demanded a king “to rule, lead in war, and fight their battles” (1 Sam 8:20). The reading from the Second Book of Samuel, Chapter 5, speaks of David, the second king of Israel. He is referred to as a king after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), a man of deep faith and love of God. David was a leader with a shepherd’s heart, one who raised up the lowly, protected the people, ruled over the land and strived to please God. At the same time, through his sinful actions David recognized his need for God’s mercy and was grateful for such grace. He was the one chosen, anointed by God, whereby through his lineage would become the perfect king, who would shepherd, raise the lowly and fight the battle of all battles. His kingdom would reign forever and ever. 

Image of God 

Who is the king of kings? St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians opens with gratitude to God for making us “fit” to receive the light of Christ who saved us from the darkness of sin and shone the glory of his kingdom by “redemption and forgiveness” (Col 1:14). St. Paul delivers a powerful message of the reality of Jesus being the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) when we see Jesus, we see our king, </span id=”10″>we see God. Jesus is the ruler, saving all by his blood shed on the cross which we kneel before with honor, reverence and respect. There is an irony in Jesus’ kingship. When one looks upon the cross, one sees death. But the cross is the battlefield of the ultimate battle. </span id=”11″>

The cross of the king 

The passage from the Gospel of St. Luke is the crucifixion of Jesus. It is quite a surprise reading when celebrating Jesus as our king. The cross, upon which hung the king, the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, the savior of the world, was the way of fulfillment of the promises of long ago. Jesus, as king, delivered the suffering people away from the exile of sin and opened the way to return to the kingdom of God, through his sacrifice of himself on the cross. Pilate ordered the providential inscription posted above Jesus’ head crowned with thorns. He heard the jeers of those who passed and hung between two criminals who manifested the separation between doubt and faith. One questioned Jesus as Christ and remained lost. One proclaimed Jesus as Christ and received forgiveness and eternity. One doubted. One believed. In moments of sheer anguish, where do I stand: in doubt or faith? 

What king would take upon himself the faults of his subjects and willingly die to save them all? Our king, Jesus Christ, did. What king would endure the scourge of the Roman soldiers, wear a crown of thorns, be nailed to a cross, suffocate and die for our transgressions? Our king, Jesus Christ, did. What king will forgive our sins when we ask and grant mercy? Our king, Jesus Christ, will. What king will remember you by name and invite you into his eternal kingdom. Our king, Jesus Christ, will. 

Thy kingdom come 

Father Paul Gros, parochial vicar at St. George Church in Baton Rouge, in a recent homily, posed the question, “Why was Jesus born?” His answer, “To establish his kingdom.” Where is Christ the King’s domain? Where is his kingdom? Paragraph 2816 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “The Kingdom of God lies ahead of us. It is brought near in the word incarnate (Jesus), it is proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it has come in Christ’s death and resurrection. The kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst. The kingdom will come in glory when Christ hands it over to his father … the kingdom of God means Christ himself, whom we daily desire to come, and whose coming we wish to be manifested quickly to us. For as he is our resurrection, since in him we rise, so he can also be understood as the kingdom of God, for in him we shall reign.” Hence, the kingdom established is the church, the people of God, here and now, was and is to come. 

Stay awake 

Hence, wakefulness is prudent. The First Sunday of Advent awakens the promises revealed by God to the prophets of old. Isaiah tells of the vision of the establishment of the God’s house atop a high mountain where many will climb to receive from God “instruction and how to walk in his path” (Is 2:3). The importance of listening and learning from God remains an important part of our faith. We hear the word of God when we listen to Jesus and come to know his ways. Consistent reading and praying with the Bible is a way to “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is 2:5). 

Armor of light

St. Paul’s letter to the Romans issues a “wake up call,” urging a turning away from the laundry list of disorderly conduct he proposed which places one in the darkness of sin. He urges us to put on the armor of light, that being Jesus (Rom 13:12). When one is clothed in the darkness of sin there is no protection against the enemy. Yet, when one “puts on Christ” one’s entire being, body/soul, is defended against sin. 

Ark of faith 

Lastly, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus compared the present age to Noah and the flood. Those who lived a life of frivolity and disorder ignored the signs and were carried away. They had not prepared. Yet, Noah, with his family, built the ark by faith, and were spared. They were not only awake, they were ready. Jesus tells us he will come again. We believe Christ will come again. Am I ready? Am I awake? 

Advent: preparing with joyful hope 

The Advent season is a good time to renew our preparedness for the coming of Jesus. We look forward to Christmas, the humble birth of the Christ, and prepare for the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. There is joy in each. The treasure of Advent is the willingness to embrace this season with prayer. It could be as simple as daily mediations (many are sent by email, and some are printed), added time for quiet listening, music or commitment to family rituals adding grace before meals, an Advent wreath, the Jesse Tree, the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Mondays and Saturdays. This is a valuable time to grow as a holy person, a holy family and a holy people. It is a time to pray for peace, unity and grace. Make Advent a time to prepare for the coming of our King, Christ the Lord, who “showed us his love and granted us salvation” (Ps 85).

Dow is director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.