Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Dear Friends in Christ,

The new Year of Grace will begin next week with the First Sunday of Advent, and on each of the four Sundays of Advent we will gather at 5 pm to sing the psalms and canticles of Vespers or Evening Prayer. Please join us at 5 pm on each of the Sundays of Advent, and bring a friend to prepare with peaceful prayer for the coming celebration of Christ’s birth.

But on this last Sunday of the liturgical year we close the old Year of Grace with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Each year on this feast, the Church throughout the world acclaims Jesus Christ as King, and describing the Lord Jesus as our true King is, of course, an analogy to a form of earthly authority with which we Americans are not well acquainted. But the true nature of the dominion of the Lord Jesus is revealed through the types and figures of Christ in the Sacred Scriptures rather than in the tortured history of earthly monarchies, and this is true most especially of King David, the simple shepherd who was anointed to lead the children of Israel. On this Solemnity of Christ the King, we should recall that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who protects his flock and seeks out the lost sheep. But we must also remember that the Son of Man will exclude from his everlasting kingdom those who neglect the “least of his brethren.”

St Matthew records in Chapter 25, verses 31-46, that the Lord Jesus commands us to feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to visit the sick and imprisoned, and to clothe the naked if we are to be numbered among his flock at the End of Days. These sober words of the Word made flesh should inspire us to find practical ways to shape our lives according to the Gospel and so put flesh on the bones of our profession of faith. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7.21). And in this liberating truth we learn the connection between the priesthood of Christ and the kingship of Christ: to serve is to rule. Let us then resolve to serve one another and all of our brothers and sisters in love, that we may be gathered at the Day of the Lord into the eternal Kingdom of Christ. The Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer for this Solemnity draws together all of these strands:

“Almighty and eternal God … you anointed your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness as eternal Priest and King of all creation, so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace, he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption, and making all created things subject to his rule, he might present to the immensity of your majesty an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Amen. Alleluia!

Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

Father Newman