Meditating on today's Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father spoke with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God's eternal kingdom is realized by those who live the Gospel and strive day after day to put his word into practice.
Pope Benedict began reflecting of the kingship of Jesus by looking at his encounter with Pontius Pilate. "During his Passion, Jesus claimed a singular royalty before Pilate, who explicitly questioned him: 'Are you a king?'” Benedict recalled. “Jesus responded: 'You say it, I am a king;' a little before, however, he had declared: 'My kingdom is not of this world.'
The question of what kind of kingship Jesus claims is, in fact, a “revelation and actualization of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice,” the Pope said. The Father, Benedict explained, “entrusted to the Son the mission of giving to men eternal life, loving them until the supreme sacrifice. At the same time, the Father conferred on the Son the power to judge men…"
Referring to today's Gospel on the universal royalty of Christ the King, the Pope noted its simple imagery and popular language, but also stressed the Gospel reading’s extremely important message: "the truth is our ultimate destination, by which we will be judged."
Benedict XVI recalled Jesus' quote: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me." This, the Holy Father taught, "is part of our civilization. It underscores the history of peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, and the multiple charitable and social works.
“In effect, the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but brings to fruition all good that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put love of neighbor into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we make space for the rule of God, and his kingdom comes true among us. If, on the other hand, each person thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot help but go to ruin."
Turning to Saint Paul, Pope Benedict pointed out that he describes the kingdom of God as "justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
"It is important to the Lord that every man have life," the Pope stressed. "In God's eternal kingdom, the Lord gathers those who strive day after day to put his word into practice. For this reason, the Virgin Mary, most humble of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and is Queen at the right hand of Christ the King. To her heavenly intercession we wish to entrust ourselves, yet again, with filial confidence to be able to realize our Christian mission in the world."