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Singing in the Reign: Weekly Message for 11-23-2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
For the last few years, I’ve been editing and translating a theology book, just published last month, called The Kingdom of Christ: History, Theology, Life for Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome. Last Sunday the Church commemorated Christ as King of the Universe, and “universe” does not just mean a conqueror out of a space opera; it means “universe” in the sense of everything, all of creation, whether fallen or redeemed, welcoming or not.
In this last week of Ordinary time, just before a new liturgical year starts next Sunday with Advent, we recall the moment at the end of history when God becomes “everything to everyone” (1 Corinthians 15:28). In my study on the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of Christ in that book (“The Church Past, Present, and Future and the Kingdom of Christ” in The Kingdom of Christ: History, Theology, Life, Regina Apostolorum, Rome 2021) I concluded that
The Church continues her pilgrimage in history until her Lord returns, he definitively conquers sin and death, and he subjects his Kingdom to the Father so that God may become “everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28; cf. 24). This does not just involve a moral conquest of hearts, because the world created to serve man and glorify God will also be redeemed from the futility to which it was subjected by sin (cf. Rom 8:18–23), therefore all of creation will benefit from the definitive establishment of the Kingdom, not just humanity.
Many people have debated whether the Kingdom said to be “at hand” by Our Lord (cf. Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17) was something future, something present, something here on earth, or something in Heaven. Was it something spiritual or something more social and tangible? The answer is, “all of the above.” Christ does reign over everything, but he invites us, through turning away from sin and believing in him, to acknowledge his reign and let it conquer our hearts, inspiring us to help him reign in other hearts as well, through our apostolate and service. That doesn’t just entail a future event or a heavenly one. It will transform society, heart by heart, here and now. Every Christian embraces and follows Christ the King, from here to eternity, and every Christian, no matter what circumstance, should be singing in the Reign, even when it implies sacrifice, renunciation, or physical death.
Today we commemorate Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a Jesuit who died joyfully with the cry “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) on his lips after forgiving the firing squad about to execute him on false charges. He had been “illegally” ministering as a priest to the faithful being persecuted in Mexico City in the 1920s at the hands of an anti-Catholic government. Not long after, during the Spanish Civil War, a young layman, Francesc Castello Aleu (1914-1936), imprisoned and already condemned to death for being Catholic, wrote to his fiancé:
I cannot feel any sorrow for my lot. A strange, inner, intense, strong joy invades me completely. I wanted to write you a sad farewell letter, but I cannot. I’m completely taken up in joyful ideas like a presentiment of Glory.
If someone facing martyrdom can be joyful enough to be singing in the Reign while facing death, all subjects of Christ the King should face the challenges today with a song on their lips and joy in their hearts that Christ reigns and will reign from here to eternity if we love him, trust him, and work with him to spread his Kingdom.
May Christ the King conquer your heart and many others this week.
Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.
Maximizing the Mass