Given on the Feast of Christ the King, October 28, 1979
My very dear friends,
My very dear brethren,
In the magnificent encyclical Quas Primas, in which Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King, the pope explains why Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly King. He gives two reasons for this.
Christ is King by Nature
The first of these reasons is that which the Church calls the hypostatic union, that union between Christ’s person and His human nature. Our Lord is King because He is God. There are not two persons in Our Lord Jesus Christ; there is a not a human person and a divine person, but only one person: the divine person which directly assumes a human soul and a human body, without the need for a human person.
Consequently, Our Lord Jesus Christ – the one who was seen on the roads of Palestine, the one who was seen in Bethlehem as an infant – He is King. And this is not all. He possesses the quality of kingship, but the Church teaches us that by the union of God to Christ’s human nature, Our Lord is Savior, Priest and King - essentially.
He cannot but be Savior, because He is the only one who can say that He is God. He is the only one who can say is the Priest, the Pontiff, the only one who truly makes a link between heaven and earth. And He is the only one who can say that He is King. Our Lord is truly King not only of the earth but also the King of Heaven.
This is the first profound reason for the kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Of this we must be convinced in order to see in Our Lord Jesus Christ our King, our personal King.
Christ is King by Conquest
But there is also a second reason, and this as well Pope Pius XI explains very well. Our Lord Jesus Christ is King by way of conquest. By what conquest? Because Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered us all by His blood, by His cross, by Calvary: Regnavit a ligno Deus. God has reigned from the wood, that is to say from the Cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ has actually conquered all souls by right, a strict right. Every soul that will be created by God and that will live even an instant on this earth is a subject of Our Lord Jesus Christ by right. Because He has conquered them by His blood. He needs to redeem them, He wants to redeem them, He desires to redeem them all, and to apply to them His blood, His divine blood, in order to redeem all souls and bring them to God.
Yes, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Blood and by His Cross, is our King by right. And this is why in the first centuries after the peace of Constantine, when Christians were able to show the cross officially in their churches, in their temples, in their meeting places, they usually represented Our Lord Jesus Christ as King, crowned with the crown of kings. For Christ is our King, and He is such by the Cross.
Now we must ask of ourselves the consequences of these principles. If the nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King is such, if Jesus has conquered our hearts and our souls by His death on the cross, we must ask ourselves this: is Our Lord Jesus Christ truly our King? Practically, daily, in all of our actions, in all of our thoughts?
And so, Pope Pius XI considers in his encyclical the way in which Our Lord Jesus Christ must be our King. He must be King of our intellect. Yes, of our very thoughts, because He is the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth because He is God. And so, can we say Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly King of our thoughts, of our reflections, of our intellectual life, of our life of faith? Is Our Lord Jesus Christ truly the one who is the light of our minds?
And Our Lord Jesus Christ is also King of our will. He is the Law. If the tables of the law were found in the Ark of the Covenant, in the Old Testament, they represented nothing else than Our Lord Jesus Christ, because today He is in our tabernacles.
But with what power! We have the Law in our tabernacles, in our Arks of the Covenant. No longer cold stones, but Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, He Who is the Law. The Word of God is the Law by Whom all things were made, and in Whom all things were made. And He is the Law not only of all souls, of all spiritual beings, of all hearts, but He is the Law of all creation.
Every law that we discover in nature comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God. And when we think that all creatures follow the laws of God, whether these are the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry, the laws of nature: these laws are followed impeccably. And we who should follow exactly the law of God, which is written in our hearts, must cling closely to this law which is the way to happiness, the way to Eternal life.
Men have turned themselves away from the law. And so Our Lord Jesus Christ must become again the King of our will. And we must conform our wills to His law, to His law of love, to His law of charity, to those two commandments which He Himself gave to us, containing all the commandments: Love God, love your neighbor. There is but one and only commandment. He himself said it. Can we truly say we are conforming our will to the law of Our Lord Jesus Christ? Is Jesus the King of our will?
Lastly, Jesus must be – and again it is Pius XI who says this – the King of our hearts. Are our hearts truly attached to Our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we realize that Our Lord Jesus Christ is everything for us? Omnia in omnibus, Jesus Christ is all and He is in all things. In ipso omnia constant, says St. Paul. In Him all things are held up, in Him we live, in Him we are, in Him we move. St. Paul said this in his discourse at the Areopagus. In ipso enim vivimus et movemur et sumus. We are in Him. He holds all things in His hands.
The Example of the Holy Family
So we must ask ourselves what the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph must have thought. I think that this is an admirable example for us. If we really wish Our Lord Jesus Christ to be our King, and truly, we must imagine what Nazareth must have been like: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
What did Mary think of Jesus? What did Joseph think of Jesus? It is incredible, isn’t it? It is a great mystery, an unfathomable mystery of the goodness and of the charity of God, to think that He permitted two creatures, chosen by Him, to live with Him. For St. Joseph during 30 years, for the Blessed Virgin during 33 years, to live in intimacy with Jesus, an intimacy with Him who is God; with the one without Whom neither Mary nor Joseph were able to speak, to think, or to live.
Mary carried Jesus in her arms, carried God in her arms. As the gospel often says: it was not Jesus whom she carried, but Jesus who carried her. For Jesus is much greater than her, since He is God.
Our Eucharistic King
Beneath the frail exterior of His body the Blessed Virgin Mary adored the living God – for she knew that this was the living God whom she had in her house; she knew by the annunciation of the angel, and Joseph knew it perfectly as well.
Well, we know that we have in our tabernacles, beneath the frail exterior of the Eucharist, the living Jesus: Jesus is there. And not only do we possess Him in our tabernacles, but we possess Him in a manner even more intimate, I would say, than the most blessed virgin Mary and St. Joseph, when Our Lord gives himself to us as nourishment. Let us reflect that in our bodies, in our hearts, we truly carry Jesus; we carry the God that carries us. For without Him we cannot live or exist, nor say a single word, nor think a single thought.
It is this God that we carry within us in the Eucharist, when we receive Him within us. Let us ask Our Lord Jesus Christ that He be our King. He has the right to be our King. That He give to us a will submitted to His law, like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.
Let us ask Mary and Joseph to help us live under the sweet reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know and we hope that we will be someday in this kingdom and we will see Him in His splendor, in His glory.
As we say so often, when we recite the Angelus: Per passionem ejus et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur : by His passion and cross we will share in the glory of His resurrection.
And though must we pass through the passion and cross Jesus on earth, one day we will partake in the glory of His resurrection. This glory which lights up heaven, which is heaven, for God is heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Heaven. In Him we live with the grace of God, and by the grace of God, if we already have him as King here below, then we will have him as King of glory for all eternity.
Let us today entreat the most Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, not only for ourselves, but also for our families, for all those who surround us. That they may come to the light of Our Lord Jesus Christ who know Him but little, who do not obey him, who distance themselves from Him. Let us have pity on all those souls who do not know the King of love and of glory – in Whom we have the happiness to believe, Whom we have the happiness to love.