We Have No King But Jesus

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The feast of Christ the King is a very new one, although the image of Christ as King is as old as Christianity.  Pope Pius XI established the feast with his encyclical Quas Primas  in 1925 to remind the World after the horrors of World War I and its aftermath that God was in charge.

This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.

 

Prior to the American Revolution an English aristocrat related an incident in a letter.  He asked a servant who his master was, and the man responded unhesitatingly:  My Lord Jesus Christ!  The aristocrat found this hilarious, but the servant was reflecting a very old Christian view.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.  At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.

Our wisest statesman have always remembered that behind the trappings of power of this World that God is ultimately the one who has charge of the fate of nations as well as individuals.  Abraham Lincoln was utterly convinced of this as he indicated in a letter to Eliza P. Gurney on September 4, 1864 as the Civil War teetered in the balance:

The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must  prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive  them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible  war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We  shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile  we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so  working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends  some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal  could make, and no mortal could stay.

Christ the King and We have no King but Jesus remind Christians that the nations of the world and the manner in which they are ruled, and mis-ruled, while very important to us during our mortal lives, are of little importance in the next.   They also instruct us that the State can never be an ultimate end in itself, can never override the first allegiance of Christians and that the rulers of the Earth will be judged as we all will be.  Although my Irish Catholic ancestors will shudder, and my Protestant Irish and Scot ancestors may smile, there is much truth in the inscription supposedly written on the sarcophagus, destroyed or lost after the Restoration, of that “bold, bad man”, Oliver Cromwell, “Christ, not Man, is King.”

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10 Comments

  1. Such nonsense!! You have your cake, but you may not eat it too. Your king is America and her flawed political system which you sing about daily. You are ashamed to be Catholic. The only system worthy of return is a Christocentric monarchy under Peter. Whether or not it is apparent now, that is where we will be taken. Oliver Cromwell knew that, and all the revolutionary and forced farcical governments know such a government is capable of restoring Christ as King of society.

  2. “Your king is America and her flawed political system which you sing about daily. You are ashamed to be Catholic.”

    The flaws in America receive daily examination on this blog. As for Democracy I agree with Churchill that it is the worst form of government devised by man except for all the others. Yep. any one reading my posts can tell that I am ashamed to be Catholic which of course is why I quote the Popes and saints so frequently.

    “The only system worthy of return is a Christocentric monarchy under Peter.”
    Turning the Pope into a temporal monarch has been attempted at various times during the papacy. The experiment turned out poorly.

    “Oliver Cromwell knew that”

    That would come as remarkable news to the Irish “papists” that he slaughtered.

  3. I haven’t thought about this much, but am considering if we to ever have a day when all Americans would be Catholics, our government would still be of, by and for the people, certainly not of, by and for the Church.
    But. those aforementioned people would be called to be mystically a new Israel…called to be a holy people – as a whole people. A very hopeful concept! So the government Of the People will be as Good as the People; By (carried out) In ways that reflect that Good

  4. “I haven’t thought about this much, but am considering if we to ever have a day when all Americans would be Catholics, our government would still be of, by and for the people, certainly not of, by and for the Church.”

    When all Americans would be truly Catholic our government would flourish and our church would be loved and respected by all. E Pluribus Unum. We can only be one nation under God.
    The principle of separation of church and state means that each and every person enjoys all entitlements and full citizenship as an individual, without disenfranchisement or discrimination, as his citizenship entitles the person to full religious expression and freedom in his metaphysical relationship with his Creator, God, the Supreme Sovereign Being. As a parishioner, a person enjoys the Sacraments and the Blessings of the ordained priesthood, while participating in the priesthood of the laity. Without the citizen’s sovereign personhood constituting our nation, we would have no nation, nor democracy.
    The principle of separation of church and state actually is the foundation of democracy. The state knowing that its sovereignty comes from God through the people and the people knowing that their sovereignty comes from God and constitutes the state.

  5. “Your king is America and her flawed political system which you sing about daily. You are ashamed to be Catholic.” Everyone is Catholic according to his vocation. Patriotism is love of country. Suffering the slings and arrows of a flawed political system and working for a better future is every citizen’s job. The reason for the state: The Preamble
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Please note that “our Posterity” is capitalized.) To “secure the Blessings of Liberty” citizens need God’s help, Divine Providence.
    As atheism denies the atheist his soul, atheism tries to deprive all men of their souls.

  6. I have always loved the Feast of Christ the King, since I was a boy, and it was celebrated initially in October. When it was moved by Pope Paul VI so that this Solemnity now called the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, I was thrilled. Its new placement adds to its dignity and meaning.

    In the history of the Chuch, certain feasts have taken on new seriousness ( for example, Christmas-Epiphany took on new seriousness and meaning during the Arian crisis. Feasts the celebrated the beginnings of the Gospel in Christ’s life were perfectly suited to emphasize the conciliar teachings on the Mystery of the Incarnation. I.e. Christmas emphasizes Nicaea’s teaching on homoIousions:consubstantial Christ truli is the Son of God; Octave of Christmas, Jan 1, Mary the Mother of God, conveying the Council of Ephesus in the Unity of Person in Christ: The Son of God become flesh, and Mary truly is, therefore the Mother of God. Finally Epiphany conveys Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ is true God and man)

    To the point, the need which Pope Pius XI in establishing the Feast has not disappeared but changed and has become even more of a need. Jesus Christ is Himself the Kingdom (reign, rule) of God: Jesus Christ is
    King. His throne is the Cross ( thus the Catholic emphasis on the Crucifix). His Kingship while social (over a visible community of people) is ” not of this world’-economic or political. Instead, His Kingship is as a Witness to the Truth. All who listen and believe He is the Way, the Truth and the Life are members of His Kingdom in the here and now ( on earth) (all according to John 18.36-38). As Vatican II teaches, the Church is the sign, seed and instrument (sacrament) of the Kingdom.

    This Solemnity, I believe, is in the process of taking on new seriousness, conveying the fundamental truths concerning Chrsit and the Church which Vatican II reasserted and reinvigorated (no new dogmas: hermeneutic of renewal and continuity). As the American bishops intuited, the Feast can convey the fundamental right to freedom of religion ( not just worship), rooted in the ancient distinction in the Roman (Western) Church’s distinction between altar and throne ( Pope Gelasius, etc). This distinction is further rooted in the Gospel:”Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s). In the face of secularist (Western democracies) growiing secularist fundamentalism and Islamisist fundamentalism, both of which fuse Church and State together, subordinating one to the other totally and rigidly, this ancient Tradition revived and renewed in the Council needs to be promoted. A proper sense of this distinction will also overcome the radical separation and segregation of Church and State.

  7. Sorry, iPad made another typo it of course should read ” homoousios”. It did it again even as I was correcting the spelling of the word. Finally, I got it to work! Sorry for any misunderstanding. Technology is great, but….

  8. Botolph, it is indeed important, as you point out, to distinguish the totalitarianisms from political freedom. But I am forced to think our heritage is entirely exceptional, and its future conditional upon many circumstances. Christianity is the source of freedom: political, spiritual, and otherwise.

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