This weekend is the last Sunday of the Church’s calendar. It is also the close of this unique Year of Mercy. Next week we begin Advent and a new liturgical year. This Sunday is dedicated to the Solemnity of Christ the King, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a counter-weight to the rise of totalitarian regimes of the early 20th century which claimed absolute power over individuals and scoffed at God guiding their lives. In Christ the King we see the paradox of a God….who serves His creation. Our God is unique in that, while all other Gods came to be served, Jesus came to serve us. Unprecedented! Mindboggling! And Christ has asked the same of us toward one another in the Corporal Works of Mercy of today’s Gospel of Final Judgment: “When I was hungry, you fed me; when I was alone, you visited me…” But God is a King who invites, and not necessarily commands.
I remember the story of the creation of the mighty statue of Christ the King at the Cathedral of Copenhagen. Christ’s hands were raised in foreboding power; His face upstretched in regal splendor. The statue had been stored for a time before placement and, when retrieved, they found the dampness had altered the statue. The upraised and fiercely commanding hands now drooped low and turned out in supplication. The stern face, once raised high, now was lowered onto His chest. Christ had transformed from a threatening King into the image of compassion, now inviting us to Him. The sculptor, at first surely disappointed, looked at his words originally carved at the base: “Follow My Commands.” He got out his chisel and changed the words to “Come Unto Me.”
Christ the King invites us, beckons us, to Him. The only thing He ever commanded of us was to “love one another.”
– Fr. Gerard Gordon