no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.
breathing his last, returns to the earth; that
day all his planning comes to nothing. – Psalms 146:3-4
This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, celebrating the
authority and lordship of Jesus over all of creation and marking the end of the
liturgical year. Falling just before the all-consuming holiday season and the
secular New Year, this feast provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what
holds mastery over our hearts before the avalanche of turkey and tinsel. And since
it specifically celebrates Chris’s kingship, it takes on special relevance in
the aftermath of a contentious election.
Who is this Jesus who rules over all? We are blessed to have
an immense icon of Christ the King in the dome of our church. This image,
called Pantocrator or “ruler of all,”
depicts our glorified Lord looking down from heaven, holding the Book of Life by
which we are judged (God’s justice) but with His right hand raised in blessing
(God’s mercy). The three-rayed halo behind His head and Greek letters in the
image identify Him simultaneously as Jesus Christ (IC XC) and as “I Am Who Am”
(WON), or God Himself.
This God-man is the same Jesus who was born in a stable; who
grew up a carpenter’s son; who ate with sinners and challenged authorities; who
said to His followers, “This is my Body; take and eat;” who suffered
humiliation and torture to die on a cross; who rose from the dead and ascended
to heaven; and who sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in these latter
years. This is the same Jesus about whom Nathanael asked, “Can anything good
come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) and Thomas said, “My Lord and My God!” (John
We have a second icon of Christ behind the altar and
tabernacle, depicted in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. Though within His
mother, He does not appear as an infant or as any child we have likely ever seen.
His high forehead and discerning eyes convey wisdom and judgment beyond His
years. This is the same Jesus that St. Augustine calls, “ever ancient, ever
new” and that dwells in the tabernacle, in the Eucharist. He is the very Word
of God referenced in John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light
of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John
What joy, what hope, what light we have when He who is the
very source of all blessing sits upon the throne of our hearts—and what sorrow,
what despair, what darkness we experience when we yield His seat to idols: to
fallen persons or passing things that will not—cannot—sustain us.
Advent begins next weekend: four weeks of penance and
preparation Christmas. As the Church year ends and we prepare to welcome the newborn
King of Kings, let us ask ourselves in whom we have placed our hope and trust.
What or whom have we set upon the throne of our hearts? The time is now to
elevate Christ to His proper place, that all else may fall into place and peace
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