A Heart Beholding

November 20, 2021
Feast of Christ the King

For some, the lofty, politically-tinged title might obscure the rich devotion offered by this feast. The title “king” carries with it suggestions of exaggerated power, wealth and dominance not compatible with our Gospel perception of Jesus.

We may be more comfortable with images of Christ as infant, brother, shepherd, lamb, vine, gate, way, truth, life…

But what all these images point out is that our ability to comprehend the fullness of Christ is severely limited by our humanity. We usually choose a specific image based on our circumstances and spiritual needs.

Pope Pius XI promoted the concept of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primas, in response to growing international secularism and nationalism. His intent was not to compare Christ to the challenged world leaders of the time. It was to raise the perceptions of all people to the lessons of Divine Leadership: mercy, justice, inclusivity, and peace.

Oh, how we could benefit from the same understanding today! 

In this age with its culture of continual war, the human pain it causes, refugee crises, climate devastation, wealth distortion and indifference to the poor, how our hearts long for just, wise and loving leadership!

In his encyclical, Pius XI wrote:

Christ the King reigns “in the human hearts,” both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all humanity. He reigns, too, in our wills, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.”

— Quas primas, §7[4]

Let’s pray for these virtues for all who are charged with any form of power or leadership:

  • keen spiritual intellect
  • deep heart’s knowledge
  • uncompromising truth
  • obedience to grace
  • holy inspiration 
  • noble character
  • and surpassing charity for all Creation

May Christ the King truly live and reign among us. May we behold the “sweet light in His eyes”!


Poetry: A King Inside Who Listens - Rumi

There are many people with their eyes open
whose hearts are shut. What do they see?
Matter.

But someone whose love is alert,
even if the eyes go to sleep,
he or she will be waking up thousands of others.

If you are not one of those light-filled lovers,
restrain your desire-body's intensity.
Put limits on how much you eat
and how long you lie down.

But if you are awake here in the chest,
sleep long and soundly.

Your spirit will be out roaming and working,
even on the seventh level.

The Prophet says, I close my eyes and rest in sleep,
but my love never needs rest.

The guard at the gate drowses.
The king stays awake.

You have a king inside who listens
for what delights the soul.

That king's wakefulness
cannot be described in a poem.

Music: We Shall Behold Him – offered in American Sign Language by Kayla Seymour; sung by Sandi Patty

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