Sometimes when we find ourselves living in times of darkness — political and social upheaval, economic uncertainty, loss of our jobs and the means to provide for our families — it can be easy to forget that Jesus Christ is still our King, and that He is ultimately in control.
St. Paul tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose.” No matter how bad things have been over the course of the centuries, Christians have known, and have reminded each other, that Jesus Christ is the King.
We who have grown up in a modern, democratic society may have distorted images of what kingship is. When we think of kings, we often think of the worst examples of kings who were despotic, who were really tyrants: all about their will, their power, their pleasures, with no regard for the common good of their people. There are many such kings in history.
Aristotle taught that there are, ultimately, six forms of government: government by one, by the few, and by the many, and that there was a good form and a bad form of each. Tyranny is the bad form of government by one. Kingship is the good form — it is government by one person who is wise and just, who governs in a spirit of true service to the common good of his society. Down through the ages, there have been some very good kings, queens, and emperors: St. Vladimir of Rus (Russia/Ukraine); King Casimir and King Jan Sobieski of Poland; St. Wencelaus of Bohemia; King Boris of Bulgaria, King Clovis, Emperor Charlesmagne, and St. Louis IX of France; King Alfred the Great and St. Edward the Confessor of England; Kings Alfonso the Chaste and Alfonso the Great of Spain (to name only a few).
All the great Christian kings and queens recognized that they would have to provide an accounting for their stewardship (for they were really stewards of the Eternal King) to the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, they knew that the Eternal and Universal King would judge them based on how they governed, whether or not they sought and fostered the true good of their people — including the eternal salvation of those under their care.
Each of us has been given responsibility for the common good of our families, for our parishes, for those in our circles of influence. Each of us is called to participate, even if it seems to be a small and limited way, a way that might even seem insignificant to us, in the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Each of us is called and commissioned, by our Baptism and Confirmation, to be a “Priest, Prophet, and King” with Christ: to seek to bring the entire world into the One True Church of Christ (the Catholic Church), and to bring the entire world (people, and the world itself) under the Kingship of Christ.
When times seem dark — and maybe really are dark — it is a time for us to assert and proclaim that Jesus Christ is King!, and to make sure that we stay loyal to Him above all else. We have many leaders in our country, and around the world, who are oblivious to the fact that each of them will have to answer to Christ at the moment of death. Our political leaders, business leaders, CEOs of multi-national corporations, and leaders of revolutionary movements might want to remake the world in their own image, but we, brothers and sisters, have a duty to proclaim Christ Jesus as our King. We have a most solemn duty to reject anything and everything that goes contrary to Christ and His teaching which He gives us through the Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and which is passed down to us by the Magisterium (the Teaching Authority) of the Church.
In the 20th century, more Catholics died as martyrs than in the previous 19 centuries combined — yes, you read that correctly! And the 21st century is following in that same pattern of widespread martyrdom in some countries, and both open and hidden forms of persecution against Christians in many other countries (including our own). Let our battle cry of faith be that of the martyrs who have gone before us, the cry on the lips of the martyrs of Mexico and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s: “Viva Christo Rey!” “Long Live Christ the King!”