Sunday, 23 November 2014

Feast of Christ the King - of the Universe

The icon may be read an an icon of Christ as King of the Universe. ( As Christ Pantocrator . ) We have blogged about this before, Here, and Here.

It is a very important feast  - just wish we could make more of it!  Pope Francis had this to say  today.

“Today’s liturgy, invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe. ...
Our Lord brought about His Kingdom through His closeness and tenderness, as the Shepherd of His flock. Pastors in the Church, the Pope said, cannot stray from Christ’s example if they do not want to become “hirelings.” “The People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and distinguishing them from hirelings.”After His Resurrection, Pope Francis continued, the Kingdom of Jesus advances as “the Father, little by little, subjects all things to Jesus." In the end, when all things are under the sovereignty of Christ, Christ will consign His Kingdom to the Father so that “God will be all in all.”Finally, Jesus’ Kingdom requires us to imitate Jesus’ works of mercy through which He brought about His Kingdom. The great Gospel parable of the Final Judgement “reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and on this basis we will be judged.” Through His victory over sin and death, “Jesus has opened to us his kingdom,” the Pope said. “But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity. If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus Himself and His Gospel.”

The reading today from Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 15,  20-28) was a special favourite of Teilhard.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

It is a reading which readily comes to mind when I look at the icon.  There is Christ in all his glory and power - the Second Adam. There is the first Adam on the left hand corner. Christ is shown with the created order ( the square) - all things  under his feet.  The love of God is drawing everything towards the centre of the heart of Christ - King of the universe.

Teilhard was himself delighted with by the inauguration of the feast in 1925 by Pius XI ( read Here )  But he just felt that it did not go far enough.  As we read in St Paul today, Christ is King of all creation ( all things' )  - and not just planet earth.  Significantly, Paul VI  later in the late 1960s did indeed enlarge the idea of 'Kingship' to include all the universe and it is this title Pope Francis used today.  Paul VI, was known to be sympathetic to Henri de Lubac, Teilhard's great defender and advocate. Perhaps his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, in which Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: "D. N. Iesu Christi universorum Regis" (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe) reflects his sympathy for Teilhard's sense of what the feast was about?

For Teilhard the Sacred Heart was the great point of entry into the great mystery of God's love and the purpose of the cosmos itself.  He therefore saw the Sacred Heart as central to the future of Christianity. Christ ultimately will unite all things in himself. This is our faith. Christ as the centre of the cosmos who calls us to a life of love by placing Him at the centre of our lives.  As we approach advent, we pray for mercy and  forgiveness for all the times we have been ruled  by the powers of this world.

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