King of Our Hearts
When I was very young, the feast of Christ the King was special. All the girls wore their white First Holy Communion dresses again and strewed flowers, often picked from their grandmothers’ gardens. We were at the head of the procession, followed by a hand-carried canopy over the priest who carried the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. My grandmother grew rows of flowers in the vegetable garden, right next to the beehives. Pollinators galore! Sometimes we would see flowers in her house. Most of the time, she grew them to be admired from her back porch or from the large kitchen “picture window.” Ultimately they were grown to be included in the liturgical environment of the church.
The procession went outside to all the church grottos, also all decorated with flowers. We sang and inhaled lots of incense. It was the feast of Christ the King!
Kings can be rulers, monarchs, lords of lands. By contrast, our Scripture readings describe Jesus on the cross flanked by thieves. And we learn about the good thief who simply asks, “Remember me.” Jesus promises him good company among those who enter heavenly bliss.
Several years ago, Ronald Rolheiser described Christ as the good king: “strong enough to be weak…who has a heart big enough to accept pettiness, who cares enough to accept humiliation, and who is faithful enough to do what’s right even when it’s misunderstood…who is tall enough to let himself be small, secure enough to disappear in anonymity, and mature enough to not be put off by immaturity…who is selfless enough to absorb selfishness, loving enough to be gracious towards what’s bitter, and forgiving enough to bless what’s killing him…who makes those around him feel safe, who carries others rather than ask them to carry him, who feeds others rather than feeds off of them, and who affirms others rather than asking them to affirm him. A good king looks more like Christ on the cross than like an earthly superstar in his glory. But that is what made Jesus’ life and death redemptive.” (Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, In his Reflection for Christ the King, in Give Us This Day, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500; Nov. 2012; pp. 266f)
May this be the King who reigns in our hearts on this great feast.