On this Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. This is the final Sunday of the liturgical year. Next week we will begin the season of Advent and our time of preparation for the feast of Our Lord’s birth. In only a few weeks, we will celebrate the feast of the New Born King.
Today, however, the scriptures and the prayers of the Mass draw our focus to Jesus who is the glorious and reigning king of the universe. The Lord Jesus, the Son of David the King, is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He is a man like us in all things but sin. He is the one, anointed by the Father with the oil of gladness as the eternal priest and king.
The Lord Jesus is the one who reconciles us to the Father by the blood of his holy cross. Today we celebrate that Christ our Lord has claimed dominion over all creation so that he might present to God our Father an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
There are so many powerful images and themes on this feast of Christ the King. And yet, my thoughts turn to a single saint on the feast of Christ the King.
The last words of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio were “Long live Christ the King. Viva Cristo Rey!” Saint Jose was executed by the government of Mexico in 1928 during the time of Cristero war. This was a time in Mexico when the government had forbidden worship and killed as many Catholics and priests as they could. It was a time of true and violent persecution. And the battle cry of the armies that formed among the peoples to fight this persecution was “Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King.”
Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio served as the flag bearer and as an aide to one of the army generals. He encouraged the soldiers. He was fervent in prayers. He spoke of faith and prayed the rosary. And he continued to pray when he was captured. He continued to pray the rosary while he was imprisoned. He continued to cry out “Viva Cristo Rey” as he was violently tortured. The government authorities cut his feet and then made him walk to the cemetery where he would be killed. During all of this time, Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio continued to pray and continued to cry out, “Viva Cristo Rey! Love live Christ the King.”
On the feast of Christ the King, I think about the faith and the prayer and the courage and the witness of this martyr of our faith.
You see, Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio was only fourteen years old.
At any age and at every age and in every age, we can proclaim Christ the King.