On this Sunday, we conclude the liturgical year with the solemnity of Christ the King. This notion of a king may seem somewhat archaic in a society that prides itself on being democratic. However, democracy is a pragmatic way of organizing society to enable as many people to participate as possible. As such, it has been valued in modern times as the best (or what is to say the same thing the least flawed) way of keeping the peace and giving people a role in their own destiny.
The kingship of Christ, by contrast, is not a matter of political or economic governance, although worldly leaders should respect the laws and rights given by God. Rather, the kingdom of God governs the soul and conquers things that no political or economic arrangement can conquer, sin, isolation, and death; and it reestablishes in their place holiness, communion with the angels and saints, and eternal life with God.
As if to emphasize the difference between the kingdom of God and political power, Jesus was born in a manger, did not focus on His title Messiah during His time on earth, and refused to let the people crown Him after the multiplication of loaves. Instead, when before Pilate, Jesus tells him that His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus only claimed his kingdom from Calvary, for there is no other path to the glory that God offers except the way of the Cross. It was not until God showed us His complete love, the love so great that He sent His only Son to live and die for us that the kingdom would be manifest.
This kingdom is based upon true and complete love, a love that can never be severed from the truth. For true love desires the complete fulfillment of another, not some fictitious image or compromise with sin. People and nations may, if they choose, try to gain independence from that kingdom, to live outside of its holiness, virtuous communion, and spiritual life. But if they do, they subject themselves to the powers of this world, forces of politics, wealth, prestige, and pleasure, powers that are themselves subject to human sin and death.
That is the choice open to all men and nations, as stated to God’s people so long ago, “I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. Choose life that you may live, loving the Lord your God.” Duet. 30:19. And, if we are willing to take the way of the Cross of Christ, which is true the way of love, then we will share in the glory of His resurrection.