Today’s solemnity was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI as a contrast to the secularism that was unrestrained in society at that time. Such a secularism focuses on materialism; ignores the virtues and values that flow from God’s natural law; ignores the existence of God in our daily lives; and tries to eliminate God entirely from public notice. That’s not far from what our world is experiencing in many areas today.
I sometimes wonder what the “average” Aussie thinks when he or she hears the word “King.” After all we haven’t had one for 63 years. In many countries dictators and monarchs are mostly a relic of the past, and may be linked to a time of ancient glories and conquests. Yet kingship is part of our heritage and for many a source of national pride. Kings used to have several things in common: they were rich; they didn’t “mix” with the commoners; and unlimited power was their instrument for stability.
With Christ the King we meet a quite different kind of king. By his very life and manner of death he showed the world that the only riches that count are the riches of selfless love. This king also spent all of his public life mingling with the common folk, showing us that every person has equal dignity in the eyes of God. Finally, this king also had unlimited power – he worked miracles, healed the marginalised, and promised to share his power with us.
In the gospel story (Jn 18:33-37) Jesus sets Pontius Pilate straight, when he told him that when he had the wrong view of king and kingdom. THIS king came to speak the truth; and his followers will “hear” his voice, if they are faithful to the truth.
Today we “hear” the voice of Jesus when we read Holy Scripture, and when we study how the Magisterium (teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church) applies the instructions of Jesus to modern life. We are required to “listen” to both, and then act on those truths.
Every baptised Catholic is called to profess the truth whenever a witness to the faith, to the truth, is required. Our Church teaches that it is an obligation, indeed a joyful one, to witness to their faith by the example of their lives and the witness of their words. So, with Christ as our King, we must be prepared to profess him before men: “...whoever denies me before men I will also deny them before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33)