The Feast of the Epiphany: Christ is King

by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876 

Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”–Matt, ii, 2

It was desired that the promised Messiah should be an heir of the throne of David, as the Lord declared by the mouth of His prophets. This promise was also well known to the scribes, for when Herod called them together and inquired of them where Christ was to be born, they answered without hesitation so it is written by the prophet: “Thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for out of thee shall come forth the Prince who shall rule my people Israel.”

Even though Herod already reigned as king, and an heir was born to him, nevertheless the sages did not hesitate to ask where the King of the Jews was born. Thus they addressed him, and they would have inquired of him in the same way even if Herod had not been a dependent of Rome, but the most powerful monarch upon earth, and the Roman emperor himself.

For what are all the princes, kings, and emperors on earth, in comparison with Christ, the heir to the throne of David, the King of angels, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth? And furthermore, what are all the kingdoms on earth in comparison with that kingdom ruled by Christ, which extends over the entire creation and whose glory has no end?

The subject of my consideration to-day will be the royal crown of Christ, and the character of His eternal kingdom. O Mary, royal Mother and co-regent in the kingdom of your divine Son, protect us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, and deserve to reign one day with Him. I speak in the holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!

“And I saw Him; He was clothed in a white garment, His head decked with many diadems, and on His thigh were written the words: ‘King of kings, Lord of lords.'” Thus St. John describes Christ, whom He beheld in His royal dignity in heaven.

Christ, as God-man, is King, as He himself testified when, in presence of Pilate, the question was put to Him–“Art thou the King of the Jews?”–and He answered, “Thou sayest it.” He is not only King, as the heir of the royal family of David, with all the prerogatives enjoyed by other monarchs, but, as Jesus, He is the King of kings. To Him belongs this dignity and honor because He possesses all the properties of a king perfectly, if we consider either His person or the nature of His eternal kingdom. How happy should we therefore feel to be subjects of such a King, citizens of such a kingdom!

First, in regard to the personal perfections of this King: where in this world is there a ruler who can be compared to Jesus! As the Son of God, He is infinite Majesty, the Creator and Arbiter of the universe. As man, He is the noblest creature which the omnipotence of God ever called into existence; distinguished by every quality which can adorn a ruler.

If a ruler be distinguished by talents and knowledge, he stands before his people as the most learned and wisest man in the whole kingdom; pre-eminent not only by his personal dignity, but by his virtues and exemplary life; just, benevolent, magnanimous, benign, merciful, and full of sympathy for the welfare of his people. I need only mention these qualities, and every one who believes in Christ, who knows and confesses His name, will immediately recognize how incomparably great and divine He is even as man, surpassing in perfection all earthly sovereigns.

Yes, even as man, through His personal union with God, He is the omniscient Son. Before Him all things are manifest, for He is the One who testifies of Himself: “All power is given to me in heaven and upon earth.” As man, He is the One of whom St. Paul testifies: “God hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above every other name, that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bend in heaven, on earth, and in hell.”

“And I saw Him adorned with many diadems,” writes St. John. These are the diadems of His glory, dignity, and power as King of Angels and Archangels, of Principalities, heavenly Powers and Dominations, of Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim, and King of all saints, according to their different choirs.

He is, besides, the incarnate benignity of God, as St. Paul calls Him; and also the Judge who is to come one day to judge the world, and who will be ready to share with all upon whom He has been able to pass a favorable decision before His tribunal, the eternal joys of heaven. Nay more, who is prepared to share with each true child of the Church His own power and dignity, His own beatitude, in virtue of that assurance which we read in the Apocalypse of St. John: “The vanquisher I let sit with me upon my throne.” He it is who, when we enter into His kingdom, will confer upon us also the dignity of royalty, to rule with Him for all eternity, as we read in the Apocalypse.

And we, the ransomed souls of men, the children of the Church, and citizens of His kingdom, are permitted, to call the King of glory our Father, our friend, and the spouse of our souls. Oh, what happiness, what honor, what glory, for time and eternity! Not only do the striking features of the personality glorify Christ as the King of kings, and arouse in us the desire to live, to fight, to conquer, and to die, under His rule, but His kingdom likewise stands forth as the most glorious among the kingdoms of earth.

A kingdom is the more distinguished the more extensive it is–the more countries it comprises, the more productive its sources are, to support, to enrich its inhabitants, and to insure their temporal prosperity; the more beautiful its situation, the more attractive are its landscapes, its meadows, its suburbs, and all its natural advantages. Greater dignity and importance are attached to a kingdom in proportion as its inhabitants are distinguished by their accomplishments; and according to their strength, stature, and civilization, they appear more powerful in respect of other countries.

Such is the kingdom of Christ. It extends over all the earth and throughout the entire heavens. It comprises the whole world, with all the beauties and glories with which God has enriched and adorned it. To the number of its citizens belong all the choirs of holy angels–those innumerable radiant spirits and glorious princes of heaven who, filled with delight, adore their King. There, too, are all the blessed saints, according to their various ranks. In this kingdom is to be found superabundant provision for every means of grace, by which we are enabled to accomplish all for God; and, furnished with them, we are invincible, and enabled to increase each moment our future treasures in the kingdom of recompense. Who should not feel happy to be a citizen of this kingdom, and endeavor to spread it, in order that all the souls redeemed by Christ may one day enjoy this happiness!

This desire becomes more ardent on account of the following circumstances: The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of truth and of light, existing to make man happy for time and eternity. In opposition to this stands the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of evil, the kingdom which inevitably drags down to eternal woe and misery the wretched creatures who rally round its infernal king. To this kingdom Herod belonged, and with him all who persecuted Christ and nailed Him to the cross.

If we do not belong to the kingdom of Christ, then we are subjects of that kingdom which acknowledges Lucifer as its leader and prince. Christ said: “He who is not with me, is against me;” and the consideration of this truth should exercise the greatest influence upon our lives and strengthen the desire to belong on earth to the kingdom of Christ, that we may one day share in heaven in the kingdom of His eternal transfiguration. The condition for obtaining this is that He who reigns in heaven has His throne in our hearts, and that He directs and governs them according to His own good pleasure.

Beloved Christians, that this may be the case, our hearts must be so adorned as to be a habitation worthy of the King of kings; that is, we must be in the state of grace, or else we cease to be zealous children of His Church, for not He, but Satan will erect his throne in our hearts. Albeit that, to all appearances, man be a child of the Church, still Christ does not abide in his heart until he consecrates all the powers of his soul and body to the service of the Lord.

Christ rules still more royally in our hearts when He governs our understanding through holy faith, so that not the least shadow of infidelity nor heterodoxy can lead it astray. Christ reigns royally in our will when He directs it according to His own good pleasure, and we do not oppose Him by placing any obstacle in the way, but render to Him wholly and entirely the free offering of our will. He reigns as King in our hearts if we are inflamed with ardent love for Him, and are ready for any sacrifice which we may be called upon to make in His holy service.

The more the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of evil, nowadays endeavors to combat the kingdom of Christ and to promote that of Antichrist, the more ardent and resolute should we be to defend and propagate it. All depends, as we are forcibly reminded by St. Ignatius in his meditation on the “Two Standards,” under which leader we enlist. The one is the standard of Christ, the other the banner of Lucifer; and whosoever does not fight under the one, enlists and combats under the other. Upon this depends where we shall one day stand at the judgment-seat of Christ–at the right or at the left. Happy, indeed, for us, beloved in Christ, if He now reigns royally in our hearts; then, indeed, after the battle of life is ended, if we have lived upon earth as victorious children of the militant Church, we shall be gloriously crowned amid all the celestial inhabitants of the triumphant Church, where for ever and ever Christ will reign as King of a glory which we shall share with Him.  Amen!

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