Catholic Classroom: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Question: Why do we end the liturgical year with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe?
On the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Following this solemnity, we observe one more week of Ordinary Time, and then begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, which is also sometimes referred to as the Feast of Christ the King, was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Though it was originally celebrated in October, this feast was moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year in 1969.
It is more than a coincidence that we close out the year with this particular feast. On this day especially, we celebrate the supreme kingship of Jesus over the entire universe. His is a kingship not like the secular monarchies of the past and present, but one that is pastoral, absolute, and desirous of bring us to himself. We await the coming of Christ in his eternal Kingdom, but we recognize that he is already King.
When we remember and reflect on Jesus Christ as King, we are better prepared to enter Advent. Though Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year, the Church recognizes the cyclical nature of the calendar and ties its beginning with its end. During Advent, we wait in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Today, after the world has witnessed the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we await his coming again, and we know that it is Christ the King who will come. Ending the liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King helps us to look both backward and forward: backward, so that we might better celebrate the joyful incarnation and birth of Jesus; and forward, so that we might be vigilant servants waiting for the day Jesus comes again.
No matter what time of the year it is, however, it is good to reflect on Jesus as King. Remembering this helps us to submit to him, not out of fear or habit, but out of love for our Creator and Savior.