Our brothers and sisters in liturgical churches know that Sunday was the last Sunday of the Church calendar. The new church year begins this week following the first Sunday of Advent.
As a fitting end to the year, Sunday celebrated the feast of Christ the King. It is a reminder that the Son of God who humbled himself by becoming human and dying on the cross is King of King and Lord of Lords for all eternity.
Christians have always understood that Jesus has three offices. He is our Prophet who fulfills the Old Testament and reveals the truth about God in the New. He is Priest because he offered himself as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. And he is King, the lawgiver who protects and rules.
Christ’s dominion extends to everything. His rule is what the American founders referred to as Providence, the ordering of life and history to God’s intended end or telos. The King’s purpose for each of our lives and in history will be accomplished. We can count on it.
In a world as uncertain as ours, this is a vital and central part of a Christian worldview. The past, present, and future are not random and chaotic, however random and chaotic they appear. Instead, as I wrote in The Good Life, “Over and over we see the evidence of God’s hand that guides both individuals and nations.”
As we reflect on Christ the King, we remember that His path to kingship led along the way of the Cross. Though “being in very nature God,” wrote Paul to the Philippians (2:6-7), He “made himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant….”
Even in Christian circles we can develop the attitude that Jesus attributed to unbelievers, the desire to “lord it over” others (Mark 10:41-45). This, wrote St. Augustine, is the defining mark of the City of Man: the lust for power and domination.
But Jesus came instead as a servant to give his life with the kind love that marks the City of God. And it was through his humility that he rightly claims the title King.
So how do we believers proclaim that kingship? Well, our lives announce that Christ is King in two ways. First, by our trust in His providence. Politics, the economy, the state of the world, and of our own lives are and always have been uncertain. And while Christ’s Kingship may be in dispute in this world, our faith tells us that His reign is sure. We can trust Him-and the way we respond to events and people around us must reflect that trust.
Second, we announce his Kingship by obeying Him. In a culture marked by radical individualism and what Pope Benedict calls “the dictatorship of relativism,” obedience to any authority is a revolutionary act.
And to the world, obeying Christ as King and living lives of servanthood and humility looks not only revolutionary, but crazy. Yet that is precisely our calling as Christians: to live as the King lived and to do as the King commands. We are to live in humble, obedient love for others.
Remembering Christ the King on one particular Sunday is our invitation to remember and proclaim with our lives that He is King every day-and to know the peace of living under His loving providence.
This article was modified for posting on the day after Christ the King Sunday.