The feast of Christ the King is the only feast that I know of which celebrates something that hasn’t visibly happened yet, and one which I find hard to imagine. I have seen too many elaborate pictures of Christ enthroned in the center of adoring hosts of angels and saints, and everything else described in the book of Revelation — and that’s not my Christ. The Christ I know, love, and seek to follow is poor, active, caring, with penetrating eyes and overflowing heart, outgoing, intensely focused, and gently personal to those who are doing their best.
What the feast of Christ the King celebrates is the end of time, when Christ' work is complete and when all creation and all history is healed and restored to order in Him, the order described in the early chapters of Genesis. That book starts with chaos, a void that is formless and which God moulds into a Garden, a place for His children to live in and for Him to walk with us in love and care.
The simple story of those chapters says that we are responsible, in Adam, for the end of that perfection, but a more modern reading of those chapters puts a very different accent on those events. God is in charge, and the Garden (innocence, familiarity with God) is where we are bound for, not where we came from.
There are different names for that Garden, and some of them are (for the Old Testament) the Promised Land, the Peaceable Kingdom, and the Reign of God and (for the New Testament) the New Creation, the Body of Christ, the Mystical Body, and even Christ the King. Notice how one sequence ends in "the Reign of God" while the other ends in "Christ the King". The Reign of God is the reign of His Son. All of these are images: God is not literally a father any more than He is literally a mother. Jesus is not really a king with a court, a bureaucracy, policies, taxes, armies, and all of that, but we need images to be able to understand what the Lord is calling us to and that is why we have all these names for what is, in short, Heaven.
The land for which we are bound, the point that we are trying to get to, is Christ alive, and in Him we will find absolutely everything in Creation in the order and harmony to which God called it in creating it. Christ is not, for me, a King so much as He is my beginning and my ending, the Alpha and Omega (Rev 22:13) for everything, resulting in the New Creation in Him because of the Incarnation. Christ heals, resolves, brings to completion, ending the rule of sin, healing every hurt, feeding every good hunger, and bringing all into the perfect order of His very self. Think of the image of an exploding planet – and then run the film backwards, every piece and every bit coming together in a magical and beautiful way. That is how well God's plan will work, for believers.
In eternity we will live not in mansions made of wood and stone, but in the very heart of Jesus, where we are already.
In eternity we will live not in mansions made of wood and stone, but in the very heart of Jesus, where we are already. But we have to choose to be there and to really be at home there, a very dynamic and progressive process ... or we can choose to be on our own. We MUST choose, and there are only those two possible choices.
There we will live in the sunlight of God's smile, in innocence, finally complete and whole, healed, and renewed. It will be an end to the nagging solitude and incompleteness which we suffer while we wait for the full revelation of Christ bringing us all home to the Kingdom of His Father.
CHAS KESTERMEIER, SJ
Jesuit Community, Creighton University