Sunday Reflection | The Solemnity of Christ the King - Saint John's Seminary
Celebrating 140 Years of Mission!  

Sunday Reflection | The Solemnity of Christ the King

November 24, 2023

On the Solemnity of Christ the King, Catholics the world over ponder the meaning of the Lord’s Kingship. In our essentially egalitarian republic, making sense of Christ as King requires some explanation.

In the United States we are accustomed to thinking of political power as necessarily limited. Elementary school children learn the value of checks and balances in a democratic government. No one branch exercises complete control. On the other hand, a king’s power admits of no restriction. No check exists on an absolute sovereign.

In a world suspicious of such unqualified authority, many labor under the illusion that Christ too enjoys only limited power. Many believe erroneously that God’s dominion can be checked or balanced by other goods. Preparing the men of St. John’s to preach in this culture, we face the challenge of the prevailing opinion: well that Catholic teaching is all well and good, but we have so many other things to consider in our secular world. How many people opine erroneously that they can check God’s authority and balance His teachings against their own sense of freedom?

Today’s Solemnity reminds us that Christ’s power is absolute. What Christ demands cannot be balanced by other considerations. God enjoys an absolute authority over our lives. At no celebration of today’s solemnity would Catholics sing “To Jesus Christ our sovereign congressman.” Believers hail Christ as King not a district representative. Christ’s reign is not restricted to a single part of life. The reign of any king extends to the whole kingdom. There can be a temptation to partition out our spiritual lives and set religion apart from other affairs.

The feast of Christ the King reminds us that Jesus reigns in every corner of life. No area is immune from His saving power. We have got to help people understand that His truth and mercy belong everywhere, from the boardroom to the bedroom, to the classroom, to the voting booth.

We have got to figure out a way to preach the truth that at home and at work, on Sunday and every day, Jesus Christ is Lord. In Christ alone do we find the happiness we seek. He knows the heart of every human person. Indeed, only Jesus Christ is the answer to the question of every human life.

The Solemnity of Christ the King enjoys a special place in the heart of every priest. Like the Lord Himself, the Catholic priest does not usher in a political regime or promise worldly success. The priest’s exercise of the munus regendi bears no resemblance to earthly power. Recall that Christ the King wears a crown made of thorns. The Cross stands as His throne.

There is another reason that today’s feast belongs in a special way close to the heart of every priest. Christ the King reminds him of his noble task—the salvation of souls. Pope Pius XI established today’s feast with the 1925 encyclical Quas primas. At that time, many in Europe believed falsely that political regimes enjoyed absolute power. They don’t. Governments fade. Truth to tell, nation-states come and go. But the Kingdom of God, salvation won in Christ mediated by Catholic priests, lasts forever. People exist for eternity. That is why to introduce someone to Jesus, to mediate an encounter with God, offers a man one of God’s greatest gifts.

It is one reason, you might say, it is a grace to be a priest.

Rev. Ryan W. Connors

Boston College, B.A.

Pontifical Gregorian University, S.T.B.

Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, S.T.L.; S.T.D.

Profile See all posts