Many stories accompany Saint Patrick, the apostle of Ireland in the middle of the fifth century. One of them speaks about the baptism of King Aengus by the saint. Many people were there. During the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and by accident stabbed the king’s foot. It was painful and blood came streaming from his foot. The king did not flinch. The celebration continued. It was only after the rite that the saint realized what had happened. He was profusely apologetic and begged earnestly the king’s forgiveness. “Why did you suffer this pain in silence”, the Saint wanted to know. The simple reply of the king was, “I thought it was part of the rite!”
Well, the truth is that there was another ‘king’ who was stabbed not only on his foot but also on his hands and side and head. And he did not react negatively. He let the pain come upon him. Somehow He wanted to show mankind that even if we torture him and kill him, He will still love us. Amazing kind of kingship!
It was less than one hundred years ago, in 1925, that Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Christ The King, basically in response to the atheist and totalitarian political regimes that denied the rights of God and the Church. This was the time when during the Mexican revolution, many Christians went to their deaths crying out to their last breath, “Long live Christ the King!” “Viva Cristo Rey!”
But if the feast is recent, its content and its central idea were born with Christianity. The whole idea that “Christ reigns” or “Jesus is Lord,” is an essential part of the kerygma.
His kingship, we must admit, is atypical. No spectacular demonstrations. No big crowds. No pageantry. He chose to show his kingship on the cross where the inscription ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ hang over his head, by being solicitous just for one man, who was, in fact, a criminal: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The ‘king’ replied earnestly, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” This should give us a good feeling – we have such a caring powerful person behind our life! Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “One person and God is an army.” We can win our battles.
“No one can live without delight and that is why a man deprived of spiritual joy goes over to carnal pleasures.” St. Leonard of Port Maurice wrote. “Leave sadness to those in the world. We who are with God can be cheerful.” St. Clare of Assisi said, “Melancholy is the poison of devotion.” St. Ignatius of Loyola, meeting one day one of his novices who was apparently in a dark mood, said to him: “My son, I want you to laugh; I want you to be happy in the Lord; a religious has no reason to be sad, and he has many reasons to be cheerful.” That most amiable of all Saints, Francis de Sales, wrote: “A sad saint is a very poor saint.” And St. Philip Neri said, “I will have no sadness in my house”
Banish sadness. The King is here!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.