On the Feast of Christ the King
By Pope Pius XI
It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of “King” because of the high degree of perfection whereby He excels all creatures. So He is said to reign “in the hearts of men,” 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 mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, 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 “love which exceeds all knowledge,” and by His mercy and kindness which draw all men to Him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as by Jesus Christ. But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that He may be said to have received from the Father “power and glory and a Kingdom,” since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with Him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.
The foundation of this power and dignity of our Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. “Christ,” he says, “has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but His by essence and by nature.” His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to Him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize His empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures. But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this: that Christ is King by acquisition, as well as by natural right, for He is our Redeemer. Would that they who forget what they have cost their Savior might recall the words: “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.” We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us “with a great price”; our very bodies are the “members of Christ.”