Online Edition: November 2010
Vol. XVI, No. 8
Pope Benedict XVI – Angelus Message
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
The King of the Universe
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King, a feast established relatively recently but which has deep biblical and theological roots. The title “King”, designating Jesus, is very important in the Gospels and makes possible a complete interpretation of the figure of Jesus and of His mission of salvation. In this regard a progression can be noted: it starts with the expression “King of Israel” and extends to that of universal King, Lord of the cosmos and of history, thus exceeding by far the expectations of the Jewish people. It is yet again the mystery of Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection that lies at the heart of this process of the revelation of His kingship. When Jesus is hung on the Cross, the priests, scribes and elders mock Him saying: “He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him” (Mt 27:42).
In fact, it is precisely as the Son of God that Jesus freely gives Himself up to His Passion. The Cross is the paradoxical sign of His kingship, which consists in the loving will of God the Father in response to the disobedience of sin. It is in the very offering of Himself in the sacrifice of expiation that Jesus becomes King of the universe, as He Himself was to declare when He appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28: 18).
But in what does this “power” of Jesus Christ the King consist? It is not the power of the kings or the great people of this world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to liberate from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of Love that can draw good from evil, that can melt a hardened heart, bring peace amid the harshest conflict and kindle hope in the thickest darkness. This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom. Christ came “to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18:37), as He declared to Pilate: whoever accepts His witness serves beneath His “banner”, according to the image dear to Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Every conscience, therefore, must make a choice. Who do I want to follow? God or the Evil One? The truth or falsehood? Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the world’s criteria but assures the peace and joy that He alone can give us. This is demonstrated, in every epoch, by the experience of numerous men and women who, in Christ’s name, in the name of truth and justice, were able to oppose the enticements of earthly powers with their different masks, to the point that they sealed their fidelity with martyrdom.
Dear brothers and sisters, when the Angel Gabriel brought the announcement to Mary, he predicted that her Son would inherit the throne of David and reign forever (cf. Lk 1:32-33). And even before she gave Him to the world, the Blessed Virgin believed. Thus she must certainly have wondered what new kind of kingship Jesus’ would be; she came to understand by listening to His words, and especially by closely participating in the mystery of His death on the Cross and in His Resurrection. Let us ask Mary to help us too to follow Jesus, our King, as she did, and to bear witness to Him with our entire existence.
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 22 November 2009