The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
When I was a 5th grader, my parents gave us kids a 16-volume set of the Golden Book Encyclopedia. It was colorful, well written, and beautifully illustrated, and I still remember reading and becoming immersed in the article on the solar system. I learned that Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer had proposed a geocentric model of the solar system, and this was the predominant theory until Copernicus. Anyway, I became interested in the planets and the constellations. One summer night my brother and I decided to camp out in the backyard with just our sleeping bags. In the night sky, we quickly identified the easy constellations: The Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and of course the North Star. So, we just laid back on the sleeping bags and watched the sky for a while. Suddenly, and I’ll never forget it – a ‘shooting star’ (meteor) raced across the sky. It was spectacular since I had never seen one before.
But that was kids’ stuff. Now, through the many astronomical observatories throughout the world and especially with the amazing Hubble Space Telescope, we understand so much more about the universe, a universe that consists of billions of galaxies.
The Psalmist tells us, “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” And, “He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.”
In the beginning, this infinite and incomprehensible universe was spoken into existence from nothing, ex nihilo by God the Father, through the Word of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. In Genesis, we read: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God spoke, and it was. In the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Truly, our Lord Jesus Christ is King of the Universe, since he is the Word through whom it came to be.
The Kingdom of God has come to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated as “kingdom” is basiliea, which can also be rendered “reign”. In speaking of the Kingdom of God among us, it seems clearer to speak of it as God’s reign, his authority, and rule. And so, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and his fundamental message was to repent, for the Kingdom of God has arrived. God sent his Son in order to proclaim his reign in the earth and to accomplish a “divine rescue mission” which was to conquer sin and death, by his passion, death, and resurrection, and deliver us from the “dominion of darkness” and transfer us to the “kingdom of his beloved Son”.
Jesus intended his reign over the dominion of darkness to continue after he ascended to the Father. And so he chose a fisherman – not a scholar of the law, a high priest or a member of the Sanhedrin…a fisherman. “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was added it to the liturgical calendar in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, who was inspired to contradict the growing statist, Communist and Fascist movements that asserted their civil authority as pre-eminent over all human affairs.
Fr. George Rutler once wrote, “There are influences in our culture today that want Christ to abdicate his throne by having the Church abandon the truths of the Faith. There are also bolder attempts to overturn Christ’s kingship through judicial arrogance. Today, you can read their opinions in the newspapers as they say: “We have no king but Caesar.”
With apologies for the Ptolemaic pun: We live in the reality of a “Son centered” kingdom, not an “earthly centered” one.
“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29