The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Feast of Christ the King - Twenty-fourth of November, 2013


Practically every Sunday we are invited, in one way or another, to put our faith into practice in some way. Being a disciple is, very much, about doing; it has to be, it is all about loving and caring is a very important part of loving. How we can be faithful disciples is a challenge that is put to each one of us by the word of God that we hear every week. 
Today, the focus is slightly different. Today, as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, we are asked to broaden our focus. Today’s feast asks us to try to picture what a society made up of disciples of Jesus would look like. Even though each one of us has to live out their faith individually, we do not do this alone. Our interaction with one another is what builds up community and that community is a very important building block of society.
This is a feast that was introduced by Puis XI in 1925. A number of important things were happening at this time. The first world war that had caused the massacre of an entire generation was still a memory that was very much alive. Monarchies that had existed for centuries had been overturned in favour of elected governments. And, very significantly for Pius XI, this was the period that saw the growth of fascism which he condemned time and again – Mussolini had been elected in Italy in 1922 and, in Germany, Nazism was becoming stronger and stronger. This was a time when society in Europe was being transformed in a way that had never before happened.
Pius had two concerns that followed him throughout his life. He was passionately committed to social reform. He was also a believer in human rights. The overthrow of the absolute monarchies was, at that time, being quickly replaced by the establishment of totalitarian regimes. Pius introduced the feast of Christ the King as a way of challenging what seemed to be becoming accepted all over continental Europe.
To say that Christ is King is, in many ways, counter-intuitive. Jesus, the one who served is presented as the king. The one who serves replaces the king. The shepherd replaces the sheep dealer. The one who heals and forgives replaces the one who goes to war. The one who values even those rejected by society replaces the ones who would negate the rights of whole groups within society. The values expressed through the life and ministry of Jesus are held up by Pius as a challenge. He holds up a model of leadership and of society that is entirely different to the direction that society was taking at that time.
A society governed by love, understanding, tolerance and forgiveness is what Jesus offers his disciples. Actually, this is the society that he challenges his disciples to establish. This stuff is the building blocks of the kingdom. This is the stuff that makes the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
The Second Vatican Council, now fifty years old, challenged the church to engage with the world in a new way. The opening words of its document on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) say:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ
 This is where we are challenged to be active: in the midst of the lives of our brothers and sisters. The feast of Christ the King still stands today as a challenge to us to be busy about the creation of a society in which all are cared for. We may not be facing totalitarianism, but, nonetheless, we still have many in our society who exist only on its margins. Our mission in the world is to be the ferment of transformation so that every member of our society feels valued.


Article posted on 24th of November 2013

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