This Sunday’s Solemnity of Christ the King marks the end of the liturgical year. By proclaiming that God has become king, we can focus our minds again upon who is really in charge, and in whose kingdom we truly find our home and our sense of belonging.
This certainly has not been a run-of-the-mill year. Some will be tempted to doubt whether God really is the supreme ruler of the universe. The devastating effects of Covid-19; the political chaos surrounding it; loss, grief, fear and the confrontation of our own mortality – all raise troubling questions.
Some may be considering whether Christ is actually seated on his rightful throne, with the whole cosmos liberated from the destructive and tyrannical power of evil. It may rather appear that the world continues to be in bondage to the powers of evil. Yet in the midst of human experience we are called to trust in what we have been taught to pray: “Thy Kingdom Come.”
Jesus boldly proclaims that “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Our Lord is very clear that in Him all that Israel had been waiting patiently for had arrived. In Jesus, God the creator was on the move and bringing in his Kingdom just as the angel Gabriel had foretold:
The Lord will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end (Luke 1:32-33).
This is the Good News: Jesus has taken power and begun to reign and we are called into citizenship here and now; not in some distant reality but at this present time, as part of God’s divine plan.
As the Catechism puts it: To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth. Now the Father’s will is to raise up men to share in his own divine life. He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, ‘on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom’. This can all seem a little too abstract and still may leave some scratching their heads, and asking where is God’s kingdom today in all the mess? The Church teaches that we can trust in the teaching of Jesus, that the Kingdom has already come but is at the same time not yet fully manifested. The Kingdom is both here and not yet here.
A common analogy employed to explain this is the distinction between D-Day and VE day in the Second World War. Many (although by no means all) historians agree that the outcome of the war was decided on D-Day, June 6, 1944. However, it was not until May 8, 1945, VE Day, that victory was finally won. The days between these two dates are often described as some of the most violent, as the enemy retreated and the war was brought to a close.
It is very similar in Christ’s Kingdom: the battle is already won in Jesus, but the war has not drawn to its conclusion until he comes again. Destructive powers still seem to reign in our world because, although Christ is truly reigning, VE Day still lies in the future.
We are called now to be dual citizens, taking our place in this world but always focused on the ultimate Kingdom. Jesus continually reminds us to place our hearts and trust in his sovereignty because he knows that his is the only Kingdom which will endure.
We only need to look at the history of the world to see that it is littered with the broken dreams of long vanished powers and civilisations, but as the words of the well-known hymn proclaim: So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never, Like earth’s proud empires, pass away, Thy kingdom stands and grows forever Till all thy creatures own thy sway.