In 1925 two men sat down to write documents that would have powerful effects on the world. One man would dictate his thoughts about humanity from a prison cell, which would be titled “my struggle” or, in German “Mein Kampf”. In this book the human race is divided and there is talk of world domination. In the same year, Ambrogio Domiano Achille Ratti wrote a document entitled “In the First” (quas primas). This man is better known as Pope Pius XI, who had the phrase “The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ” as his motto. Both of these men wrote about one having power and dominion. One man wrote about a kingdom based on hatred and sheer strength. The other wrote about the true king—the one born helpless in a manger and who died on a cross, whose judge posted on the cross “the king of the Jews”. One kingdom is a kingdom of peace and joy, the other is a kingdom of terror, hatred, and death. After the First World War there was an emergence of several socialist governments in Europe. As a result of the Great War, the old monarchies of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia had fallen, and although Italy still had its king, the real power was with the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.
In the Soviet Union, Lenin had died in 1924, and by 1925 it was clear that, despite what titles others might hold, the real power was in the hands of Stalin.
At the same time, persecution against Catholics was brewing very strongly in Mexico. In 1926 the famous Cristero war in Mexico would break out, and thousands would lose their lives. One of them, a Mexican priest, and now a canonized saint-Blessed Miguel Pro, cried out “viva Cristo Rey” as the firing squad went to work. Long live Christ the King! This brave priest had to minister in secret, lest he be executed. He was known as the undercover priest who would show up in the middle of the night dressed as a street cleaner to bring the sacraments. He would dress as a policeman to bring the sacraments to prisoners! As governments may try to exert their force and squash the Faith, Jesus Christ is the true king for all time and eternity.
It seems very popular now to attempt to find meaning in life through political ideologies: everybody has to have a cause it seems. Many people who have rejected faith have tried to fill that void with some activism. Yet in usurping the true king from His throne, there is no salvation. It was not without accident that Pius XI wrote this document at a time when atheistic governments were coming to power. Only one true king has died for us so that we may share in His life in the eternal Kingdom. The Gospel today gives us a very clear indication that our Lord is the true King who at the end of time will judge our lives: sins of omission, that is, the good we chose not to do, will be judged just as severely as sins of commission, that is, the evil we chose to do. He gives us our lives to live and work in the Kingdom through lives of prayer, struggling to grow in virtue, works of mercy, and living close to Him in the Sacraments. Every moment of our lives should be moments of profound conversion and laboring in the small corner of the vineyard with which you and I have been entrusted. No matter what, you and I belong to this great, faithful, noble, powerful, and loving King.
As Pius XI notes, not a single one of our faculties should be apart from the dominion of Christ: “He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God. If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection.”
Is there something in your life or my life that I still seek to have dominion over? Why do I not hand that aspect of my life to Christ, the true King? To ignore or discourage a person from following a vocation is to deny Christ his Kingship. To allow our bodies to be reigned by pleasure and not by Christ’s law of love and fidelity is to attempt to usurp the true King. We can deny Him as much as we want, but in the end, He is still king and He will judge according to how we have lived our lives as members of His Kingdom. It is very American to want to depose the king: our country was founded on that desire for freedom from Great Britain and King George. Yet Christ is the King who does have true dominion over the universe, the world, our country, our souls-each one of us. Part of our responsibility of course is to seek to build up the kingdom—to have great zeal for souls. Whenever we are feeling like we are alone: remember we have an eternal King whose army includes the saints and angels in heaven as well as our brothers and sisters on earth and the souls in purgatory. No army can outmatch that force!
Truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love, peace. These are the trademarks of His kingdom. “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” No political or government program can ever accomplish this. Only the true King is able to do this.