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Monday, November 20, 2017

0561: Reflections on the Solemnity of
Christ the King by Pope Francis



Entry 0561: Reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King   

 by Pope Francis 


O
n four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King, on 24 November 2013, 23 November 2014, 22 November 2015, and 20 November 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 November 2013

Before concluding this celebration, I would like to greet all the pilgrims, families, parish groups, associations and movements, who have come from many countries. I greet the participants in the National Congress of Mercy; I greet the Ukrainian community, which is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, the “great famine” brought on by the Soviet Regime and resulting in millions of victims.

Today our grateful thoughts turn to missionaries who, over the course of centuries, have proclaimed the Gospel and spread the seed of faith to many parts of the world; among these Bl. Junípero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan missionary. Today marks the third centenary of his birth.

I do not want to finish without addressing a thought to all those who have worked to carry forward this Year of Faith. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who has led this journey: I thank him deeply from my heart, he and all of his collaborators. Thank you very much!

Now let us pray the Angelus together. With this prayer we invoke the protection of Mary especially for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith, and they are many!


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 24 November 2013

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude for this gift which he has given us. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.

I offer a cordial and fraternal greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price.

With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.

The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ is at the centre, Christ is the centre. Christ is the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of his people and Christ is the centre of history.

1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning: Jesus Christ, the Lord. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (see Col 1:12-20). He is the Lord of creation, he is the Lord of reconciliation.

This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. And so our thoughts will be Christian thoughts, thoughts of Christ. Our works will be Christian works, works of Christ; and our words will be Christian words, words of Christ. But when this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.

2. Besides being the centre of creation and the centre of reconciliation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. Today, he is here in our midst. He is here right now in his word, and he will be here on the altar, alive and present amid us, his people. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (see 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.

Christ, the descendant of King David, is really the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one, one people, united with him and sharing a single journey, a single destiny. Only in him, in him as the centre, do we receive our identity as a people.

3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.

Whereas all the others treat Jesus with disdain—“If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!”—the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified Jesus and begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43), in his kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Today we can all think of our own history, our own journey. Each of us has his or her own history: we think of our mistakes, our sins, our good times and our bleak times. We would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely and quietly: “Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom! Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can remember me because you are at the centre, you are truly in your kingdom!” How beautiful this is! Let us all do this today, each one of us in his or her own heart, again and again. “Remember me, Lord, you who are at the centre, you who are in your kingdom.”

Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom!

Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Let us go forward together on this road! Amen!


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this celebration, I wish to greet all of you who have come to pay tribute to these new saints, especially the official delegations from Italy and India.

The example of these four Italian saints, born in the Provinces of Vicenza, Naples, Cosenza and Rimini, aids the dear people of Italy to renew the spirit of cooperation and concord for the common good and to look to the future with hope, trusting in the nearness of God, who never abandons us, even in moments of difficulty.

For the intercession of the two Indian saints from Kerala, great land of faith and vocations to the priesthood and religious life, may the Lord grant new missionary drive to the Church in India—that is so good!—so that, inspired by their example of concord and reconciliation, the Christians of India may continue on the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence.

I affectionately greet the cardinals, bishops, priests, as well as the families, parish groups, associations and schools present. With filial love, let us turn now to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, Queen of the Saints and model for all Christians.

I wish you a happy Sunday, in peace and with the joy of these new saints. I ask you to please pray for me. Have a good lunch and arrivederci!


RITE OF CANONIZATION OF BLESSEDS
GIOVANNI ANTONIO FARINA
KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA OF THE HOLY FAMILY
LUDOVICO OF CASORIA
NICOLA OF LONGOBARDI
EUPHRASIA ELUVATHINGAL OF THE SACRED HEART
AMATO RONCONI

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 23 November 2014

Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe. The beautiful prayer of the Preface reminds us that his kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” The readings we have listened to show us how Jesus established his kingdom; how he brings it about in history; and what he now asks of us.

First, how Jesus brought about his kingdom: he did so through his closeness and tenderness towards us. He is the Shepherd, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel spoke in the First Reading (see 34:11-12, 15-17). These verses are interwoven with verbs which show the care and love that the Shepherd has for his flock: to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture. All of these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ: he is truly the “great Shepherd of the sheep and the protector of our souls” (see Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25).

Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings. In this regard the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.

After his victory, that is after his Resurrection, how has Jesus advanced his kingdom? The Apostle Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, says: “for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (15:25). The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father, including even himself in the end. Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment. In this way there is full reciprocity between the Father and the Son. The period of Christ’s reign is the long period of subjecting everything to the Son and consigning everything to the Father. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26). And in the end, when all things will be under the sovereignty of Jesus, and everything, including Jesus himself, will be subjected to the Father, God will be all in all (see 1 Cor 15:28).

The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged. This is how we will be judged. This is the great parable of the final judgment in Matthew 25. The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36). The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this? And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom. The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity. In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other. Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom. But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now—his kingdom begins now—by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity, catechesis. If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints. Each in his or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters. They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour. They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God. In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth true love for one’s neighbour. In the hour of judgment, therefore, they heard that tender invitation: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

Through the rite of canonization, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honored Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for his sheep. May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace the Gospel as the compass of our lives. Let us follow in their footsteps, imitating their faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality. May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests. And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 22 November 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. And today’s Gospel leads us to contemplate Jesus as he introduces himself to Pilate as king of a kingdom that “is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). This doesn’t mean that Christ is the king of another world, but that he is king in another manner, but he is king in this world. It is a contrast between two types of logic. Worldly logic is based on ambition, competition, it fights using the weapons of fear, extortion, and the manipulation of consciences. On the other hand, the logic of the Gospel, that is, the logic of Jesus, is expressed in humility and gratuitousness. It is silently but effectively affirmed with the strength of truth. The kingdoms of this world at times are sustained by arrogance, rivalries and oppression; the reign of Christ is a “kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface).

When did Jesus reveal himself as king? In the event of the Cross! Those who look at the Cross cannot but see the astonishing gratuitousness of love. One of you could say, “Father, that was a failure!” It is precisely in the failure of sin—sin is a failure—in the failure of human ambitions: the triumph of the Cross is there, the gratuitousness of love is there. In the failure of the Cross, love is seen, a love that is gratuitous, which Jesus gives us. For a Christian, speaking of power and strength means referring to the power of the Cross, and the strength of Jesus’ love: a love which remains steadfast and complete, even when faced with rejection, and it is shown as the fulfillment of a life expended in the total surrender of oneself for the benefit of humanity. On Calvary, the passers-by and the leaders derided Jesus, nailed to the Cross, and they challenged him: “Save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mk 15:30). “Save yourself!” But paradoxically the truth of Jesus is precisely what is hurled at him in a mocking tone by his adversaries: “he cannot save himself!” (v. 31). Had Jesus come down from the Cross, he would have given in to the temptations of the prince of this world. Instead, he cannot save himself precisely so as to be able to save others, precisely because he has given his life for us, for each one of us. To say: “Jesus gave his life for the world” is true. But it is more beautiful to say: “Jesus gave his life for me.” And today, in this Square, let each one of us say in his or her heart: “He gave his life for me, in order to save each one of us from our sins.”

Who understood this? One of the criminals who was crucified with him understood it well, the so-called “good thief,” who implored him, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingly power” (Lk 23:42). But this was a criminal, a corrupt person, and he was there in fact because he had been condemned to death for all of the brutalities that he had committed in his life. But he saw love in Jesus’ manner, in Jesus’ meekness. The kingship of Jesus doesn’t oppress us, but rather frees us from our weaknesses and miseries, encouraging us to walk the path of the good, of reconciliation and of forgiveness. Let us look at the Cross of Jesus, let us look at the “good thief,” and let us all say together what the good thief said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” All together: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Ask Jesus, when we feel that we are weak, that we are sinners, defeated, to look at us, and say to him: “You are there. Don’t forget me.”

Faced with so many lacerations in the world and too many wounds in the flesh of mankind, let us ask the Virgin Mary to sustain us in our commitment to emulate Jesus, our king, by making his kingdom present with gestures of tenderness, understanding and mercy.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 November 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the conclusion of this Celebration, we lift our praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift that the Holy Year of Mercy has been for the Church and for all persons of good will. I respectfully greet the President of the Italian Republic, and the official Delegations who are present. I express deep gratitude to the leaders of the Italian Government, and to the other Institutions for their collaboration and commitment. A warm thanks to the Police Force, to workers who have provided services in reception, information, health, and to the volunteers of every age and background. I thank in a special way the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, its President, and those who have cooperated in their various capacities.

A grateful remembrance to all those who have contributed spiritually to the Jubilee: I think of the many elderly and sick people, who prayed unceasingly, even offering their suffering for the Jubilee. In a special way I would like to thank the cloistered nuns on the vigil of Pro Orantibus Day which will be celebrated tomorrow.

I invite everyone to especially remember these our Sisters who dedicate themselves completely to prayer, and who need spiritual and material solidarity.

Yesterday in Avignon, France, Fr Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, a member of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Founder of the Secular Institute of “Notre-Dame de Vie,” a man of God, attentive to the spiritual and material needs of his neighbours. May his example and intercession support our journey of faith.

I wish to warmly greet all of you, who have come from various countries for the closing of the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica. May the Virgin Mary help all of us keep the spiritual gifts of the Jubilee of Mercy in our hearts and make them bear fruit.


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy. The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of his saving work, and it does so in a surprising way. “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: he is on the cross, where he seems more to be conquered than conqueror. His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus’ reign is truly not of this world (see Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (see Col 1:13-14). For the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. Christ lowered himself to us out of this love, he lived our human misery, he suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; he experienced death, the tomb, hell. And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being. He did not condemn us, nor did he conquer us, and he never disregarded our freedom, but he paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (see 1 Cor 13:7). This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (see 1 Cor 13:8). We joyfully share the splendour of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.

It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King. The people presented to us in today’s Gospel, however, help us. In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.

First, the people: the Gospel says that “the people stood by, watching” (Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer. The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening. They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance. Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us. We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with him. A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”

There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal. They all mock Jesus. They provoke him in the same way: “Save yourself!” (Lk 23:35,37,39). This temptation is worse than that of the people. They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (see Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies! If he is God, let him show his power and superiority! This temptation is a direct attack on love: “save yourself” (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself. Claim triumph for yourself with your power, with your glory, with your victory. It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel. When confronted with this attack on his very way of being, Jesus does not speak, he does not react. He does not defend himself, he does not try to convince them, he does not mount a defence of his kingship. He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.

In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him. How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world. How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works. This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission. Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.

In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom. He was not closed in on himself, but rather—with his errors, his sins and his troubles—he turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory—unlike our own—does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.

Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory. Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope. As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others. Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.

So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamour of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord. We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy. Let us go forward on this road together. May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle. Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus’ disciple as her son. She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to his merciful eyes, will find an answer.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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