Viva Cristo Rey

Sunday, November 21st 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

On this last Sunday of Ordinary Time for the liturgical year, we end the Cycle B readings that focused on the Gospel according to Saint Mark, and we move to the Cycle C readings which will focus on the Gospel according to Saint Luke. This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, at a time when the world was experiencing a rise of secularism, materialism and individualism, and an increasing denial of Christ’s existence and authority.

This was the decade of the “La Cristiada” or the Cristeros War in Mexico. From 1926 to 1929, Plucarto Elias Calles was the president of Mexico and sought to shut down the Catholic Church. Bishops and religious were banished from Mexico, Catholic Churches and Schools were closed, Sacraments were prohibited, and many Mexican citizens were imprisoned or executed. The battle cry of the Cristeros was “Viva Cristo Rey” and “Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.” This translates, “Long live Christ the King” and “Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Pope Pius XI hoped that the establishment of this feast would accomplish three goals: that nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, that leaders and nations would see that they are required to give respect to Christ, the King of kings, and that the faithful would be strengthened and encouraged by the reminder that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.

This feast is needed more than ever for all people and for us especially, as Catholic Christians. It reminds us of three vital truths:

· First, even when it seems the world is spinning out of control, we need not fear because we have a King of kings who is very much in charge and who is loving, merciful and just.

· Second, if Christ is king of all, then He is also king of me, personally. I am not “lord” of my life, abilities, talents, and resources. He is. I am a servant of the King and merely a steward of His gifts to me.

· Third, as His disciple, I am called to imitate my King. Christ’s kingship is characterized by humble service, by emptying Himself for the good of others.

The Scriptures tell us He went about doing good and He says of Himself, “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for the many” (Matthew 20:28). How can I live in any other way than as a humble servant in imitation of Jesus Christ my King?