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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

The Reign of Christ our King

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

In Lewis Carroll’s book, “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice’s mother tells her: “Up is down; down is up; black is white; white is black; sugar is salt, and salt is sugar.” Alice’s mother likes to re-define truth. Like her, many people today are rather sarcastic about the truth. They ask the question of Pontius Pilate: Quid est veritas? (“What is truth?”) [1] I would propose they have asked the wrong question. The question should be, “Who is truth?” We believe Christ is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus Christ is the unchanging measuring rod of truth. Truth does not change. As Scripture reminds us:

“Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

When the light of Christ illumines the darkness, the gray area disappears. If people are perplexed about what is right and wrong, the truth is revealed by turning Christ, the alpha and omega of truth.

Our blessed Lord clearly defines truth. We have the Ten Commandments. We have the whole of Sacred Scripture. We have the Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. We have the Church that He has established on the Rock of St. Peter. The Lord tells us,

“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [2]

But that does not mean that the powers of hell will not try to bring down the Church. Some attacks come from outside the church, but the worst attacks come from within. In spiritual warfare, truth is a powerful weapon. The devil is the Prince of Lies and many fall to his deceptions. In our own times, Pope Benedict XVI warned us of the dictatorship of relativism. People twist the truth a little here and a little there, and the next thing you know, people are doing what Alice’s mother did in Wonderland. They invert the order of everything, saying: “Up is down; down is up; black is white; white is black; sugar is salt, and salt is sugar.” Just as God is all about order and clarity, the devil is all about disorder and confusion.

Today we celebrate a Feast in honor of Christ the King. Those with worldly hearts see Christ and snidely ask, “Are you a king?” [3] Just as society today looks at Christ with contempt, people also hate the Bride of Christ, the Catholic Church, whenever she reflects the beauty of her Bridegroom. Perhaps this is why people continually try to manipulate or dominate the Church—or should I say—to tempt the Church — “to get with it” and to relax her moral teaching.

Those who persecuted Jesus on the Cross said to Christ, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” [4] Such godless souls. They deny the Kingship of Christ. They want easy salvation —cheap grace. Today they have loud voices. The enemies of Christ tell us not to carry our crosses. They tell you,

“You don’t have to follow all those church rules and moral teachings. That is old fashioned. We know better today. Do what you want.”

That, my friends, is what Satan said to Eve in the Garden of Eden. As he was tempting her to disobey God Satan said to Eve,

“You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [5]

This is rather similar to what godless men say to us today:

“Do whatever you like. You will feel so good. You will be happy when you do what you want.”

They deny there are consequences for sin. They deny the reality that if we die with mortal sin on our soul we will go to hell for all eternity.

My dear friends, that cross, that cross that Jesus has given you, is your key to opening the gates of heaven. Do not lay down that cross. Love that cross. By that cross that God gave you, you will find the way of perfection. Do not take the easy path – for that is the path to destruction. Follow the way of the cross, for that is the way of salvation.

Part of the problem we have today is the false sense of mercy. This is intertwined with the idea that we are to be “nice” people. There is great pressure within the Church today stop preaching the Gospel, to stop calling people to conversion in Christ. It seems many Catholics are almost embarrassed of the Gospel and of the moral teachings of Christ. They prefer to sit in the easy chair of worldly morality. Rather than bringing them the saving truth of the Gospel, they prefer to dialogue with sin and to accompany sinners along the road to perdition.

They do not want the Church to tell people who are enmeshed in a life of sin that what they are doing is sinful. Certainly, do not use the word “sin.” How offensive and off-putting! But what was Christ’s message when we began his public ministry at the River Jordon?

“Repent and believe in the Gospel.” [6]

Some would say that Jesus was not very “nice.” Well, first of all, what does it mean to be “nice”? Actually, if you study the etymology of the word “nice,” you learn our English word “nice” comes from the Latin nescius (“ignorant”). So, I would agree that in this sense, Christ is in no way “nice.” Jesus is certainly not ignorant. Nor does he want us to be left in the ignorance of sin. Christ our King does not think it is “nice” to leave us wallowing in our sins.

When the woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus’ feet, He first challenges the self-righteous, saying: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” [7] Jesus calls a spade a spade. Sin is sin. Yes, the woman caught in adultery is a sinner. So are they. After those men depart, He says to her: “Go and sin no more.” [8] Jesus is direct. He is clear. Adultery is a sin. It was then. It is now. At the same time, the Lord shows her true mercy. She is forgiven of her sins. Christ our King is teaching us that to leave someone in the ignorance of sin, under the guise of being “nice,” is false mercy. Only the light of Christ brings truth with mercy.

When we defend the Church, when we stand up for the Gospel, we should expect to be hated for it. We will be mocked and ridiculed or called old fashioned or backwards. Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), a member of the British Parliament from 1906-1910, once gave a campaign speech, and was heckled for being a practicing Catholic. He replied:

“Gentlemen, [yes] I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day... [And] if you [decide to] reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative.”

The crowd was astonished. Belloc treasured His Catholic faith more than his career. God give us statesmen like this today - men and women who do not sell Christ for 30 pieces of silver, trading their faith for the rewards of lobbyists. God spare us from legislators who make create so-called laws that reject God’s laws.

God give us presidents who know that they have no power except that which has been “given them from above.” [9] We need people to fulfill public office who are servants of Truth, servants of Christ the King. But above all, God give us holy men as our Bishops and priests—men who true captains in the army of Christ the King.

As we talk about rights today, it should be said that the Church that Christ has rights. Christ established the Catholic Church with a visible Head on Earth, St. Peter and his successors. And when we obstinately refuse to follow the teachings of Christ the King, there will be consequences. Pope Pius XI in his encyclical establishing this feast in 1925 wrote:

“If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth…it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds….He must reign in our wills…He must reign in our hearts… He must reign in our bodies…which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls…” (Pius XI, Quas Primas 33)

I wonder what will become of the family in society. The family is under attack. Society is trying to redefine it. Mankind is trying to be his own master, creating babies in laboratories, while at the same time destroying babies in the womb. If there is any hope for society, for a society obsessed with personal ‘rights,’ we must recognize that no person has a right to take innocent human life! Christ is King – He alone is the Lord of Life.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Our Lord saw all of this. He saw every sin of every man, woman, and child in human history. He felt it in his bones; He sweat blood. Before the soldier ever pierced Christ’s Heart with the lance, we sinners pieced Jesus’ Sacred Heart by our sins. Look at your neighbor, as you point your finger at his sins, your other four fingers point back at your own sins. When the adulterous woman was brought before the Lord, all Jesus wanted to do was to forgive her, to heal her, and to help her to sin no more. So, too, with us, Christ our King is our Savior and Redeemer. He enters our lives to defeat the darkness of sin and to establish the reign of His love and peace in our lives.

My dear friends in Christ, we are for a time pilgrims on this earth. We are citizens of one nation or another, but as Christians, our citizenship ultimately is in heaven, where Christ the King is Ruler, where Christ the King is Victor, and where Christ the King is Commander. One day each of us will come before our Good Lord to make an account of our lives. I hope we will be able to echo St. Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” [10]

Notes: [1] Jn. 18:38. [2] Matt. 16:18. [3] Jn. 18:37. [4] Matt. 27:40.

[5] Gen. 3:1-4.

[6] Mk 1:14.

[7] Jn. 8:7.

[8] Jn. 8:11. [9] Jn. 19:11.

[11] 2 Timothy 4:7.


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