IN THE jubilee year of 1925 Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical on Christ the King and established the feast. "That Christ should be styled king in the figurative meaning of the word has long been of common usage," he wrote, "on account of the exalted excellence by which He eminently surpasses all created things. Thus it happens that He is said to reign in the minds of men, not so much because of mental power or great extent of knowledge as because He is the very truth, and mortal man must necessarily derive and obediently accept from Him the truth. He reigns likewise in the wills of men, because in Him there is an altogether perfect integrity and compliance of the human will with the holiness of the Divine will, and He so subjects our free will by His Own influence and impulse as to make us aspire to all that is most noble. Christ, finally, is acknowledged as King of hearts on account of His charity, surpassing all knowledge, and a meekness and benignity attracting souls." These words of the encyclical give us a brief commentary on the present invocation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as King and Center of all hearts.
The Old as well as the New Testament speaks of Christ as King in the most exalted and comprehensive meaning of the term. He is the Ruler that will come out of Jacob and is constituted by the Father King over His holy Mount of Sion, Who will receive the nations as His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession. He is the Prince of peace and government is laid upon His shoulders. His empire shall be multiplied and there shall be no end of peace. The first announcement of Him in the New Testament dwells on the greatness of His kingship. Gabriel, the Archangel, informs the Blessed Virgin, chosen to be the Mother of the Messias, that, "The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be King over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk. 1: 32 f.).
Before Pilate Jesus speaks of Himself as King only once. It is the morning of the first Good Friday. Jesus stands before Pilate. Jesus, weak and exhausted from what He has suffered during the terrible night, manacled, with the smirch of spittle on His face, stands before Pilate, the King of kings before the representative of the Roman emperor, the Creator before the creature, the Holiest of the holy before a cowardly judge. It is under such circumstances that Pilate asks the question, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" A solemn question, and Jesus gives a solemn answer, "My kingdom is not of this world. . . . My kingdom is not from hence."
Pilate therefore said to Him, "Thou art then a king?" Jesus answered, "Thou sayest it; I am a King. This is why I was born and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth . . ." (Jn. 18: 33 ff.). The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom; He rules over the minds and hearts of men as supreme teacher, lawgiver, and judge.
Jesus is King of truth. We have a summary of His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the sorrowful, they that hunger and thirst after justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice. We could not imagine a sharper contrast between the principles enunciated by Jesus and those of the world. But they are true and Jesus has come to give testimony to the truth.
Jesus' kingdom is the kingdom of holiness. The idea of Christ's kingdom is not external appearance, not lip service, but the perfection of a sincere heart. Men are to be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect. God sees their innermost thoughts and intentions and these are decisive for the goodness of the external act. God must be loved with the whole heart, the whole mind, the whole soul, and all our strength. His followers must always bear in mind that the way of salvation is the close way with the narrow gate. The broad way to which the world invites leads to ruin, temporal and eternal.
Jesus is Judge. The Father has given all judgment to the Son. In the full consciousness of His Divine kingship Jesus describes His coming for judgment. He will come in the clouds of Heaven with great power and majesty. All nations shall be gathered before Him and He will pronounce the sentence of eternal salvation or damnation. And then His heavenly kingdom in all its glory will begin.
Center of All Hearts
The heart of man has been made for God and only in and through the Heart of Jesus can men find Him. The goodness of God has appeared in visible form in Jesus. During His earthly life the charm of His love attracted the people with irresistible force, so that they followed Him wherever He went. He went about doing good. In the same manner He continues to attract souls and to do good in the blessed Eucharist, the memorial of His love. From every tabernacle, from every consecrated Host issues the invitation to all who labor and are heavily burdened to come to Him. He will refresh them and with Him they will find rest for their souls. But love kindles love, and so we behold the wonderful spectacle of millions of men and women loving Jesus as they love no other man, ready to shed for Him the last drop of their blood. No man was ever loved as Jesus is loved. The great heroes of nations may be loved by their countrymen during life, they may be honorably mentioned in books of history, monuments may have been built in their honor, but who of them could be said to be loved centuries after his death? To be loved a man must be present, must live. Jesus lives. He lives in the Eucharist, He lives in the Church, He lives in the hearts of men. And it is living, personal love that speaks when the faithful consecrate themselves again and again to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "Thine we are and Thine we wish to be."
The more men love Jesus, the closer they approach His Sacred Heart as the center of their love, the more they will love one another; they come closer to one another just as lines drawn from the periphery of a circle come closer to one another the closer they approach the center. Therefore the hope of mankind lies in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let men gather around the Heart of their King and the love and peace of His kingdom will descend upon this troubled world.
TAKEN FROM THE LITANY OF THE SACRED HEART, Bruce Publishing