Regardless of who you voted for in the recent presidential election, for most of us, the last week and a half has been a bit rough. Whether you’re disappointed about the election’s outcome, tired of defending voting for our President-elect, or worried about the divisiveness in our nation, political discussions have been wrought with tension and even outright anger. Amidst this sort of discord, the question arises: what does the faithful Christian do now?
We’ve (hopefully) paid attention to the issues and the candidates, discerned carefully with the information made available to us (and some thoughtful commentary like that published here), and we’ve cast our ballots. Now, with a new President-elect preparing to take office in January, our life—and our Christian witness—must go on.
In God’s Providence, perhaps it is no coincidence then, that we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King so soon after Election Day. Established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, the Feast was instituted because “men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ” (Quas Primas, 1). As we finish one presidential term and move on to another and as we come to the end first of the liturgical year and then of the secular one, this roadmap to finding peace is a welcome one.
The truth is, of course, that no matter how virtuous or strong a secular authority is, the only king of our hearts should be the Son of God. Why? First of all, because of who He is. In the words of Pope Pius XI:
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 (Ibid, 7).
There can be the tendency to either idolize or demonize politicians who are, after all, human beings with both strengths and flaws. Christ, on the other hand, is truth itself and when we are feeling unsettled or lost about how to proceed, it is to Him that we should turn.
Secondly, we look to Jesus as King because of what He did:
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…And 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 Jesus Christ (Ibid).
What a grace it is that we are subject to a King who not only has complete authority over us, but also chose to die out of love for us. No one could ask for a better ruler than that.
What bearing does Christ’s Kingship have on our present situation? After all, didn’t Christ Himself say to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s? And yet, Pope Pius XI states, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” (Ibid, 19).
It is not a question of ignoring the secular debate – indeed, we need to continue to be involved as faithful citizens, advocating for life, truth, and the common good. However, it is not in the President or any other government official that we should place our hope nor find our joy. The gift that we can bring to the world around us as Advent and Christmas approach is the reassuring truth that regardless of what happens in the next four years (for good or for bad), Christ will remain on His Throne: ruling, loving and guiding us towards the one aspiration that truly matters, reaching Heaven.
What a witness it would be if those in our communities could see that there is something different about us—about Christians who truly believed and lived out in joyful hope these words from Romans:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,* nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Blessed Feast of Christ the King!