Faced with the growing brutality of Mussolini’s racism and wanting to emphasise Christ’s non violent kingship and rule, in 1925, Pope Pius XI designated the last Sunday in the Church’s year as Christ the King Sunday, and this tradition has been regularly kept since 1970. It is also to celebrate the all embracing authority of Jesus Christ. At Jesus’s trail he was questioned about his claim to be king. He was then in a most unlikely state. The enigmatic statement made, “My kingdom is not of this world”, throws the focus onto the world of the spirit.
Unlike the popular perception of Kingship, Jesus’s kingdom is one of service. As is frequently the case, dialogue such as this, shows that his antagonist, in this case Pilate, cannot hear Jesus’s voice. To hear his voice is to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and the king.
In 1912, Canon Henry Holland who was all to familiar with the London slums, said that the more you believed in the incarnation, the more you cared about drains. The kingship of Christ has profound and permanent implications for the way we live, how we spend our money , our time, our career choices, our voluntary work, the way we relate to people, and the way we worship, it is a thrilling and challenging message to each one of us.
MP Jo Cox and Fr Jaques are recent examples of self sacrifice and sacrifice for others. The medical teams risking their lives daily in Syria and Iraq, are other witnesses of this self service and sacrifice.
The nineteenth century statesman Thomas Erskine said that all religion was grace, and all ethics was gratitude. Our response to Christ the King is to make a religious commitment that has profound and permanent implications for the way we live our lives gratefully in the world today, with regard to the care of the poor and vulnerable, how we house others, what we make of Donald Trump President Elect but that’s another story and the Jury is out at present.
Fr David Ingledew
All Saints Church, Hove