The Church’s year of prayer and worship ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The great promise of God’s revelation as described in the Bible is that God would send a king who would establish a kingdom in which God’s law, that is, his justice would prevail throughout all of creation. Before this King and Kingdom, all the dark forces that oppose God, the powers of sin, death and the devil would fall and ultimately be defeated and the corruptions of evil that cause so much misery would be overcome.
The great king and kingdom of the Old Testament, that of King David and the Kingdom of the Israelites, was considered to be a foreshadowing of God’s king and God’s kingdom, but that king and kingdom went the way of all earthly things- corruption, decline and fall.
This left the Israelites longing for something more, for a king and kingdom greater than any that the world provides and promises.
The great revelation of Christ the Lord is that God himself becomes the King and establishes his Kingdom, a kingdom unlike the kingdoms of the world- this kingdom makes its appearance in the world in the Church, in saints and in sacraments, in self-sacrifice and in service. It is the revelation of Christ and his Kingdom that signals to us that God has come into the world to deal with all that opposes him- to offer forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and redemption from the devil.
His victory is revealed in the mysteries of his passion, death and resurrection and it is in the revelation of his resurrection that his disciples see that God and his Kingdom are now here, in this world, and we are now given the opportunity to live, not as slaves to sin, not in fear of death, and not in bondage to the devil, but as the children of God the King. But in this regard, we must make a decision…
This decision is whether we are for or against Christ the King, and if we are for him, whether or not we are willing to live in the manner that he asks us to live. The way of life he gives us is not accepted in the abstract or as merely ideals or emotions, but in very real practices, in very real relationships and very real decisions.
This way of life is embedded and embodied concretely in the Church.
Living for or against the Church is an extension of our decision for or against Christ. What Christ offers to us is not a matter for debate, but a matter for our decision. And in terms of Christ and the Church, you can’t have one without the other- you can’t have the King without also having his Kingdom.
St. Ignatius of Loyola put this all succinctly and starkly in his Spiritual Exercises as a decision for Christ or the devil. You can’t serve both you will either love one or hate the other. All Christians are faced with this decision and while many will postpone or try to evade it, you can’t postpone or evade your decision for Christ indefinitely. Not to decide is to have made your decision and it means your decision is no.
On this, the last day of the Church’s year of praise and worship, we are reminded that Christ is our King, and if we truly accept him as such, we have a life changing decision that we have to make.
Christ the King chooses us (this is his decision) but will we choose him?
Christ offers us his Kingdom, but are we willing to accept responsibility for it, or will we choose instead to languish in fallen kingdoms of our own making…
Not to decide is to decide.
Now is the moment of decision.