Monday, 26 November 2018

King of minds, wills, hearts and bodies

Pope Pius XI in 1929
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: this is a relatively recent feast introduced by the church only in 1925. The holy father back then, Pope Pius XI, instituted this feast as a way of opposing what he saw as growing secularism and nationalism.

In secularism, God is relegated to a personal choice and to be kept private. For the secularist to bring up the subject of God and religion is to make an imposition upon others. What secularism is saying is that God doesn’t have jurisdiction over the world that we know, just to do with something private or personal to the individual if they are into that sort of thing. As we know, that is what is happening in the society we live.

Nationalism is to over emphasise the role of the nation state, and to make it into the goal of life to promote its power. In nationalism one could think that one’s nation is key to a glorious future of humanity. We only have to consider the 20th century and the disastrous nationalist delusions of Germany in Europe, and Japan in the East, to realise how terrible this error can become.

Both secularism and nationalism fail to acknowledge that Christ our Lord has sovereignty over everyone. That Christ our God is Lord of heaven and earth, and we are His subjects both in the Kingdom to come, but also in the world we now live in. So, by celebrating this feast, Pope Pius XI, hoped we Catholics would be reminded of the errors of both secularism and nationalism by reminding us of Christ’s kingship.

Basis of Christ's Kingship
The Kingship of Christ is founded first on the unity within Himself – that Christ is both man and God. He is not a little bit of both mixed together – He is both a man, and as God the Son fully united with God the Father. He is the eternal, Word of God, and through Him all things were made. This is expressed literally in the creation accounts of Genesis when everything is created by the word of God: “God said, Let there be light. And there was light.” So therefore, as everything was created through Him, Christ has a total dominion over every creature including Angels and Men.

Secondly, Christ is also our King because of the Redemption. He redeemed us by His crucifixion. We were bought by Him, and thus we no longer belong to ourselves. In accepting Him as our Redeemer we accept becoming His subjects.

And thirdly, Christ told us at the end of the gospel, “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28)

So what does this mean for us?
Let us hear Pope Pius XI's answer:

"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God." (Pope Pius XI)

So, this feast is reminding us of how we are to reach the goal of this life, which is the heavenly Kingdom. In heaven we freely allow Christ total sovereignty over all our faculties. We cannot reach heaven without doing this. And this life is about getting closer to that goal by the grace Christ gives us through His Church.

So, we must make sure we allow ourselves to be educated by Him, that our minds may become subject to Him. We must train our wills to obey His commands and to grow in virtue. We must train our hearts to desire Christ above all things in this life. And we must train our bodies that they serve our souls and not be merely there for self-gratification, but that our bodies help us grow in holiness.

Thus may we celebrate Christ our King – King of our minds, wills, hearts and bodies.

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)