(On the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe)
In my childhood, an image of Cristo Rey (Christ, the King), sitting on a throne regal and majestic, occupied central place in our old ancestral house. It was encased in a glass-covered cove to protect it from dust. Flowers surrounded it.
When the house was demolished and a new one built, my parents also had the same Cristo Rey enthroned by our parish priest at a prominent spot where it was the first thing visitors saw upon entering.
My parents knew the image of Cristo Rey is just an image, a statue crafted from plaster by a sculptor in love with his trade and most probably in love with our Lord Jesus Himself. But to my parents, our Cristo Rey was not just an image. We did not worship it (which of course we should not), but it reminded us of the Person it represents, like the photo of a wife, of a child, of a parent, or other loved ones that we lovingly keep in our wallets, or are framed and displayed in our living rooms.
My parents inculcated in us the love of God by gathering us around the Cristo Rey to pray for our family and for other people we loved. It was from praying before our Cristo Rey that our parents taught us Jesus Christ is King, our King Who deserves our love, homage, and service.
My parents loved Christ the King, and they did their best to love and serve Him in their own little but meaningful ways. My dad tried to follow Christ in more ways than by being San Simon Apostol at our parish church Holy Week liturgies. My mom did similar things, too, in church where she was a member of the Catholic Women's League and the Legion of Mary, the Woman Jesus loved most.
When my time came to build my own home, a Cristo Rey statue was a prominent fixture there. And wherever my wife and I made a home, Cristo Rey was there enthroned, to remind us of Who our King is, the King Who is King of the Universe, Who is also the Good Shepherd, and the Judge Who will take an accounting of our stewardship at the end of time.
As Mother, the Church guides us to know, to love, and to serve Christ, Our King. She therefore ends the liturgical year with the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, to remind us who our Lord is and who we are in "God's scheme of things."
Before Pilate, Jesus acknowledged He is King . . . but not like a king of this world that Pilate had in mind. Jesus is the King whose throne was the cross, but He now sits at the Father's right hand in glory and majesty.
One of the key meditations in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is on the Two Standards (flags). In life we are to make a choice on whose Standard we are to stand with: Christ the King or the kings and idols of this world.
We stand under the banner of Christ through a life of love and service to others. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus Himself gives the scenario of the Last Judgement:
"And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Mt. 25:40)
St Paul followed Christ the King, the King Whose earthly throne was the cross. And so he could say:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
We have only one king. He is Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. May He give us the grace to stand with Him, to choose Him in our life, to keep Him enthroned in our hearts and minds . . . always!
Viva Cristo Rey! #