This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. An old priest said after the Vatican Council, ‘My Christ used to be Christ the King, but now he has to be Christ the Carpenter’. Yet in this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus refers to himself as a King. For this, ‘He was born and for this he came into the world’. Today we live in a world of democracy where kings have no place. But the Feast of Christ the King is very important for our times, for his Kingdom and his kingship are totally different from the kingdoms of the world.
Christ is a king who cares. He calls himself the good shepherd who cares for his flock. He searches for us and when he finds us, he keeps us safe from harm. When we stray from him, he comes for us and heals our lives and gives us his strength. Yes, Christ has been immensely good to each one of us. He continually leads us to the right path and accompanies us on our journeys. Christ knows our needs and listens to our prayers. One day he will welcome us into the kingdom of Heaven.
Christ is a king who offers his grace to the world that needs his love so badly. As Pope Francis repeats again and again, Christ offers forgiveness and mercy to his people. He replaces our natural weakness and failings with his greater love, compassion, kindness and courage. He doesn’t force us to do anything. He respects our freedom and leaves us to make our own decisions for or against him each day.
Christ’s greatest commandment is the commandment to love God, to love ourselves and to love our neighbour. Christ has a special love for the poor, the sick, the lonely and the rejected. He came to serve rather than be served. It is the goodness and sacrifice of his life that persuade us to follow him. We meet Christ in the ‘bits and pieces of everyday, a laugh here a kiss again and sometimes tears’, As Patrick Kavanagh wrote. ‘Christ is the pearl necklace around the neck of poverty’.