By: Bishop Joseph E. Strickland
Catholic East Texas
As you know, the last Sunday of the liturgical year is the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. This beautiful feast reminds us that Jesus Christ is King not just for one liturgical celebration each year but every day of our lives. We are living through challenging times, but let us all be strengthened by our faith and our foundation on the truth of who truly is the King of the Universe. The image of Christ the King of the Universe reminds us of the basic reality of creation. As the Gospel according to John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the basic proclamation that Jesus Christ, God’s Divine Son, is King of all. As disciples, we are called to live and be guided by this basic truth every day of our lives.
It is also important to remember that Jesus Christ is King of each of our lives in a very direct and personal way. We are challenged to turn from sin and live his Gospel more and more fully. Our King is calling each of us to embrace this work with great energy and commitment. As you know, I have a strong devotion to eucharistic adoration and I know many of you share this love of spending time in the presence of the King. Let us remember that this is the bottom line reality of what we are doing when we pray in the presence of the Lord exposed in a monstrance or in the tabernacle. We are in the very presence of the King, body and blood, soul and divinity, there veiled under the form of consecrated bread and wine. I can speak from my own personal experience of the strength that flows from spending time in the eucharistic presence of our King. Let us never grow weary of spending time with the Lord. We are weak and too often distracted just like our brothers, the original apostles. They literally walked the streets of Jerusalem with the King of the Universe but they often failed to truly recognize who they walked with on their journey. Let us allow their manifest weakness to hearten our efforts, being reminded that even the apostles had to rely completely on the Lord.
In addition to this focus on Jesus Christ the King of the Universe, as we come to the end of this liturgical year, we also come to the end of the Year of St. Joseph. Pope Francis in his apostolic letter writes that the year of celebrating St. Joseph will end on the beautiful solemnity of his spouse, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Dec. 8, 2021. As we draw closer to this date, it seems appropriate to reflect on St. Joseph and his connection to Jesus Christ King of the Universe. The humility of our Lord and of his adoptive father, Joseph, is striking as we reflect on Jesus as King and the special role of Joseph as the husband of Mary and the adoptive father of our Lord. The Gospels proclaim and our faith embraces the truth that the King of the Universe was fostered and supported by this man Joseph. The household of the Holy Family was truly a royal household, yet the grandeur and sublime beauty of this home has none of the trappings of what the world would call noble.
Scripture reveals to us that in God’s plan for our salvation both the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are of the royal bloodline of David. They epitomize a spiritual grandeur that in worldly terms had been lost in the exile and sufferings of the people of Israel. Mary, Joseph and their Divine Son Jesus illustrate for us in profound ways the true nature of royal nobility in the kingdom of God. The world judged that Joseph and Mary had been deposed from their royal stature as children of Israel but they show us the sublime reality of their true status. The simplicity of their lives compels us to look at royal status differently as the new children of Israel and of course Jesus Christ reveals completely that status in the kingdom of his Father is modeled in sacrificial love and humble service.
As we consider Christ the King and Joseph his adoptive father, let us joyfully embrace the call to witness to a different kind of power, a different expression of nobility, a transformed understanding of wealth. Jesus Christ is a King crowned with a crown of thorns. Joseph, his earthly father, is a lowly carpenter. The world of the first century counted wealth and power in terms of gold and military might. It is much the same in our world of the 21st century. Through two millennia, the world has changed little in its estimation of wealth and power, but through the ages, earthly kingdoms have fallen one after another. As we ponder the end of another journey through the liturgical year, may Jesus Christ King of the Universe and his foster father Joseph inspire us to seek and live the kingdom of the Father. May Christ be King of our daily lives as he was for Mary and Joseph as they nurtured him in Nazareth.