“My kingdom does not belong to this world,” Jesus says as Pontius Pilate is interrogating Him. He later says: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus is King and He reigns forever. His proclamation of the truth continues to this day as we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
As Jesus tells Pilate, His kingdom is not of this world. Yet He is a king. His victory on the cross destroys the power of all who would seek to destroy Him for He rose from the dead. The victory of our king is a victory for all who listen to His voice. Through His cross we have been redeemed and saved, we have been given the gift of life eternal.
At the beginning of His ministry he proclaims the Kingdom of God. He reveals this Kingdom as He reveals His heavenly Father. The Kingdom of God is established and will not go away. Jesus as the king invites all to be citizens of His kingdom and not only citizens but kings as well. Recall that in the baptism liturgy we are anointed “priest, prophet and king;” so as to share in the life of Christ and the life in His kingdom.
The second reading for today’s liturgy, from the Book of Revelation, reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we celebrate His reign over the entire universe. All creation acclaims His kingship.
The Preface for today’s Mass beautifully captures the essence of our celebration as we pray to the Father: “For you anointed your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness as eternal Priest and King of all creation, so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace, he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption, and, making all created things subject to his rule, he might present to the immensity of your majesty an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
As we gather today for this joy-filled celebration we reflect on our life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus says His kingdom is not of this world yet we live in this world. St. Augustine in his “City of God” describes our living in this world but not being bound by this world for we are citizens of the heavenly realm. Being a citizen of the kingdom we seek to live our lives by the will of God. We seek to live according to eternal truth. We seek to live lives based on the good, not a transitory goodness or pleasure but the Good that is God.
As we live in this world we experience the kingdom in many ways. Perhaps the most visible is when we are gathered together around the altar offering praise and thanksgiving in communion with God and each other. But it is also visible in the charity and love we share with those around us as an extension of our eucharistic celebration.
The kingdom is also experienced in our hearts where God dwells through His Spirit. Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic, describes different ways the Lord made Himself known. The most often was as a king reigning in man’s soul. She says: “There He has fixed His resting place, and His royal city: and out of this worshipful throne He shall never arise, nor move His dwelling place from it forever.”
Recognizing the King’s presence in our lives, we are moved to live lives worthy of His dwelling.
Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Morrisville.