We Have Allowed the World to Continue to Crucify Him
By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor: At the center of the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe is a paradox – that this Lord and King, Jesus Christ – never held any political office. He didn’t have an advanced academic degree and never had any kind of a cultural influence when He was alive on this earth. He rode a donkey to His coronation, He was crowned with thorns, clothed in purple and mocked as a King by His own people, and even spit upon for His royal salutation. At His death, He had no money, no home, and no possessions – this King was without an earthly Kingdom – cursed, defiled, ridiculed – who died at the age of 33 on a terrible instrument of torture -hung on a cross to die alone. And yet, our very concept – our entire hope of salvation – our entire faith which the Church proclaims and we profess every Sunday in the Nicene Creed – is born right here in this paradox. That our King, our Lord of Love, was brutally tortured and suffered the most cruel death “for us men and our salvation.”
It is You Who Declares Christ the King of Your World
Make no mistake about it – without His suffering and death on the tree of the cross – there is no Christianity, there is no Catholic Church or Her sacraments, and there is no deliverance for us from sin and death. When we take a deep look at the example this King gives us from the Cross – we can see what an adult, mature, authentic follower of Christ is – and that is one who gives and not takes. It is one who is not selfish, one who does not grasp at things or try to take possession of them. One who surrenders all of His control for the sake of the other. One who takes up his cross and then dies on it.
This, then – becomes the standard by which we too will be judged at the end of our lives – Have we fed the hungry? Have we given the thirsty something to drink? Have we welcomed the stranger? Clothed the naked? Cared for the sick and the dying? Visited the imprisoned? Have we loved others as He loves them, which is His greatest command to us? Have we acted in a way worthy of His Kingdom? Have we given of our lives so as to be worthy of this great King of Love? Have we died to self to be able to live for Christ? For Christ told us – “whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.” Whatever we do, good or evil, to others – we do this to Christ Himself. We continually crucify Him over and over again in the lives of our brothers and sisters because we are so selfish, so uncaring of those around us, so hateful to those we have been chosen to love.
Our Catholic faith and Christ’s example – is meant to teach us to be of service to one another – this is the core of our religious freedoms – the freedom to live a life of virtue and avoid vice; “to be the best version of ourselves,” to be like the saints, whose virtues helped to build up not only the Church, but civil society as well. We live our Christian life, our virtuous life, our Catholic Faith when we follow the example of this great King on the cross – when He gives everything, holding nothing back – for the salvation of the whole universe. For He said, “when I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” And why does He draw us to Himself? So, that we can be like Him, so that we can have union with Him, so that we will never be separated from Him again.
Christ on the Cross, crowned with thorns, unrecognizable in His suffering, is the image of the Kingdom of the Father – because He lives – even dies for others. Christ the King on the cross is also the truest image of any and all forms of religious freedom. For Christ freely acted on our behalf and for our salvation. He freely gave of Himself to the Father as a sin offering for our redemption.
But what do we see when we look upon the crucified one? What do we see with our eyes of faith? Not someone who saved Himself, but someone who forgets Himself in the Sea of God’s infinite love. Not someone who builds up His own ego – but someone who gives it away for the sake of others. Not someone who fills Himself up with worldly things or with a sense of inflated pride – but someone who completely empties Himself out in all humility, in the greatest act of self-donating love. Someone who said on the night before His death, “this is my body, which will be given up for you!!”
St. Pope Pius X stated at the beatification of St. Joan of Arc in 1908; “In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked, lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy going weakness of Catholics.” Because of our laziness, our selfishness, our weakness – because of our fear of failure, or not wanting to be the outcast of the world; our friends and family. Our complete unwillingness to suffer with Christ for others – our refusal to carry our cross after Him – we have become the outcast of Heaven – the scourge of the earth.
Because we our cowards and weak in our faith, we have allowed the world to continue to crucify Him and so the Holy Father continued, ”What are those wounds in the midst of your hands, [O crucified King of the Nations]?” [And He answers;] “With these I was wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by my friends, who did nothing to defend me, and who on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of my adversaries.” This reproach of our Lord’s, through the words of His Vicar, St. Pius X, can be placed at the feet of every weak, cowardly, and timid Catholic in our country.
For if these words to be true – 104 years ago – on the beatification of one of the greatest martyrs in our Church’s History – How much more are they true today for us – who are Catholics – and who have once again abandoned our King and His Church in their hour of greatest need? “Behold the Heart [of our King] that has so loved the world and has received so little in return.”