I have always been fascinated by history, and by poetry with its alliteration and rhyme. These two fascinations are both useful in understanding the feast of Christ the King, which we celebrate today. This is a feast which I have loved since I celebrated it with a neighborhood procession and joyful singing when I was a postulant.
At some time when I was studying history, but I have no idea of when, I learned that the ancient peoples saw the role of the king as threefold: to PROTECT, to PROVIDE and to PRESIDE. That is, kings were to guard against dangers from within the community and from without. They were to be sure that the basic needs of their people were met, and they were to be the wisdom figures, those whose example was to be emulated by all the people.
For me, it was also very enlightening to learn that the feast of Christ the King was established in the 1920s, after World War 1, and that the pope saw its purpose as to make it clear that in spite of any wars or threats, Christ was the ruler of all nations, and that God alone would be the future sovereign of all nations and all peoples, not any worldly government. It was a reiteration of the message of the Book of Revelation—at the end of time it is God’s plan that is victorious. All nations and peoples will be under the rule of our God.
The Gospel for today’s feast is, of course, perfect for the One who leaves the world’s inhabitants in charge of sharing the world’s wealth. It is ours to feed the hungry; it is ours to give drink to the thirsty. But it is also ours to look after the immigrants and those who are strangers in the land. It is ours to look after the imprisoned, regardless of their crimes. It is ours to make sure that those without health care are provided for and ours to provide clothing for those who cannot afford life’s necessities.
Can there be any more perfect interpretation of this Gospel than that given by Saint Teresa of Avila five centuries ago? May we listen to her and to Christ with open minds and hearts.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world Yours are the feet through which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless people now.
-Sister Elizabeth Buchala
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221