Service that flows from love” Reflection for the Feast of Christ the King
We have come to the end of the liturgical year and the Church invites us to focus our attention on Jesus as King.
The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 at a time when Europe was witnessing the rise of totalitarian regimes. The feast held a particular significance for Christians to assert the primacy of Christ in their lives at a time when society was becoming more regimented and controlled by the state. Indeed, many gave testimony with their lives when they were martyred during the War and the Communist Era. The feast of Christ the King was a statement saying ‘NO’ to the domination of earthly powers.
Yet for us today the word King might not hold so much meaning, and many wonder as to the significance of celebrating such a feast in the context of today’s society. However, the Gospel of today speaks loudly as to why the feast is perhaps even more significant than before. Jesus is not a King who wants to wield power over others. Rather he is a King who identifies with the weak, the poor and the hungry. It always strikes me that at the last judgement we will not be asked as to how much did we pray, or fasted, but rather how much we have actually reached out to the poor. “Whatever you did to these little ones you did it unto me.”
There are many people in today’s society who seek refuge in the security and privilege that their wealth gives them. Indeed their wealth gives them access to power to dominate over the lives of others and often they feel threatened by the mere presence of the poor and marginalised. Migrants, refugees, homeless people and those living below the poverty line find it hard to have their voices heard.
Nano Nangle, Catherine McAuly and Edmund Rice were wealthy individuals who lived in Ireland at a time in the early 1800 when there was great poverty and struggle for emancipation. They did not hide behind the security that their wealth and social position gave them. Rather, inspired by the words of today’s gospel, and moved by the misery of so many people they chose to identify with them. They sought to empower them by making use of the resources and talents they had to provide education and shelter. That is why they are on the road to sainthood today.
Pope Francis never tiers to remind of this basic fundamental Gospel truth that we cannot say we love God if we do not love our neighbour. He wanted that today’s feast be heralded by the ’Day of the Poor’, which he inaugurated last Sunday, “so that – in his own words – throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.”
Celebrating the feast of Christ the King today is a statement saying ‘YES’ to the poor, the migrants, the homeless and all those on the periphery.