If one looks at history, another picture presents itself. Yes, kings sometimes possess great wealth and power, control large properties and numbers of people. But rarely do they live in peace. In William Shakespeare’s Richard III, Richard bemoans the fate of kings, “How some have been deposed, some slain in war, some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed, Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed—All murdered; for within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king, keeps Death his court.” For many, the crown proves an inescapable portal to suffering, both for the king and those around him. In this understanding of the title, it is a rather hopeless vocation to be king.
But there is a third type of king that is presented to us in Sacred Scripture, which carries a theme that is both powerful and hope-filled. The king in this sense is identified with the life and welfare of his subjects and land. The king is first in battle and last in retreat. The king goes without in lean years and celebrates plenty by sharing with his subjects. The king shepherds his people on a path that is true and lays down his life for the lives of his people. This is the kingship we celebrate in Christ the King. Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast in 1925 in the face of growing secularism and nationalism. In the turmoil of our current political picture, it is relevant for Catholics to remember our true leader and the model he set for all who would rule.
May the Peace of Christ the King reign in our hearts.