At the feast day mass of Christ the King held Nov. 23, Archbishop Christian Lépine asked the congregation: “Do you have a crucifix at home? Do you take the time to ponder the meaning of it?” It is through contemplating these simple yet challenging questions that the faithful were invited to enter into the feast of Christ the King, the king who comes with the promise of a kingdom that is not of this world.
The Mass of the Feast of Christ the King was celebrated at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. A setting had been organized in front of the altar to highlight the end of the liturgical year. One could see a Crown of Thorns as a reminiscence of Christ’s passion, and for us to remember that Christ is the King! It was a simple celebration, yet profound, and a beautiful moment to acknowledge that we belong to Christ and are the heirs of the Kingdom of Christ.
A Divine King
“Jesus Christ is King, but not the king we would expect,” said Archbishop Lépine to the assembly. He explained that it can be difficult at times to see God’s kingship in the disfigured face of Christ, someone who let himself be beaten at the Cross. But as the Archbishop reminded us all, Jesus on the Cross “transforms our understanding of what a king should be.” Jesus Christ is indeed not a human king, but a divine king who helped us understand what it means to be human beings. As his subjects, we are all called to become “kings and queens”: Jesus Christ is King, and as kings and queens we are to serve and offer our lives,” he stated. “Through Baptism we have royal blood. It dignifies us as children of God,” he added.
Gazing at the Crucifix…
“We often forget God’s existence, we often forget Jesus’s existence.” There are many crosses and crucifixes, but we rarely take time to stop and gaze at the Jesus on the Cross: “Gazing at the Cross, it’s like saying a prayer […], it’s a simple gesture, but a very powerful one at the same time,” said Archbishop Lépine. Bringing up some basic theological vocabulary, he took the time to explain the differences between “cross” and “crucifix.” It all resides in the corpus, Christ’s body, which transforms the cross into a crucifix (with the corpus).
The homily concluded with a prayer in which the Archbishop asked the Holy Spirit to give us the grace “to gaze […] and to worship the crucified Jesus Christ.”
… when in tears and in joy
In his own words, Archbishop Lépine reminded the assembly that the crucifix has been given to us to stand firm when we suffer and are in tears, knowing that Christ also suffers with us. He stressed that it be also important to keep gazing at it even when in joy, in order not to forget those who suffer. It is a “symbol grounded in a reality,” he said. As a final Blessing, Archbishop Lépine suggested suddenly that all crucifixes be blessed next year, which would enrich the Feast of Christ the King celebration and give it a special appeal. A beautiful idea! Until next year…
On the eve of the Mass, a prayer vigil was held to underline the Feast of Christ the King, in order to render thanks at the end of the liturgical year. Young people from Youth Mission Montreal facilitated in part the vigil.