Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing nationalism and secularism. He recognized that these related societal ills would breed increasing hostility against the Church. His encyclical reminds the faithful that while governments and philosophies come and go, Christ reigns as king forever.
Secularism divides our public selves from our private selves. When governments limit the rights of religious ministries, secularists claim that religious freedom is not harmed because we still have freedom of worship – we are free in private but not in public. But the kingdom of God calls us to a whole life of worship and service in the public square. We cannot worship on Sunday and then deny Christ’s teaching in the way we run our ministries throughout the week.
Nationalism, on the other hand, divides our loyalties. It is a meritorious thing to love one’s country, but ultimate loyalty is due only to Christ and his kingdom. Ideologies that ask us to put our nation above Christ and his Church are incompatible with service to the kingdom.
We must work every day, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to draw closer to Jesus. In our own increasingly “post Christian” society, we cannot be complacent in our spiritual lives. To acknowledge the kingship of Christ means that we should dedicate ourselves to prayer, to building up our families and our parish communities, and to bringing healing to a broken world.
Jesus inaugurates a kingdom that grows through humble acts of service. Even as her freedom to carry out her ministries is threatened, the Church must patiently continue to serve the poor, educate the young, welcome the migrant, visit the prisoner, heal the sick, bury the dead, and love others.
American media and pop culture seem obsessed with politics and promotes distorted notions of freedom that embrace every kind of debauchery while showing little tolerance for religion or things Christian. If the feast of Christ the King was needed in 1925, how much more is it needed today?
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life,
Adapted from USCCB’S Christ the King bulletin insert