Before he was martyred in 1927 in Mexico because he was a priest who administered the sacraments to the people of God against the will of the anti-religious government, the last words of Blessed Miguel Pro were, “Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!” This phrase was made more popular by the establishment of today's solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Pope Pius XI established it to remind the faithful that, despite the growing nationalism that demanded supreme authority and faithfulness to the state, it was indeed God alone who deserved our full service. It is a reminder that we obey God, and not man, even if, like Blessed Miguel Pro, we must suffer for it. (Miguel, by the way, held out his arms in the sign of the cross before the firing squad to remind us that his suffering was one with Christ's crucifixion).
We give total obedience to God alone because He alone is the one that will save us. It won't be educational systems, it won't be government programs, it won't be Woodstock, and it won't be saving the environment. The person on the cross alone saves us, so don't put your trust in anyone or anything else. Not only can He save us, He will. He already does, if we are open to the life of the Spirit.
No, in the end, Christ the King will reign over the entire universe. The power struggle that we all know so well will be no more. My Kingdom is not of this world means that it is not governed as this world governs. Herod, the tetrarch during Christ's birth had three of his own children put to death, whereas Pontius Pilate would not bat an eye to administer mass crucifixions in order to stop potential uprisings in the territory. This constant fight for domination will no longer be the state of affairs. God alone will rule, and his reign is of service and peace. This is why He distances himself from Pilate's questions.
When we say Thy Kingdom come, the fact is it will come, no matter what. We pray to conform our hearts to it now so that, when it comes, it is a joy for us and not a suffering. For that kingdom means freedom from selfishness, freedom from sin, freedom from the pain that sin brings upon us all; it means fullness of peace in our hearts and in our communities, fullness of joy, fulness of communion with God and with others. If we don't let go of our sins, our selfishness, the passing things of this world that never satisfy our deepest longings, then we will not be glad when the Lord returns and establishes his reign.
“Thy Kingdom Come!” means more than “please return and fix all this,” but also is a promise that we will do our part (and a plea for help in doing it). Baptism in the threefold office of Christ. Under the office of king, we order our world under the kingship of Christ. Bringing this about requires religious freedom: which means not freedom from religion in the public sphere, but freedom for its genuine and full expression. The saints show us clearly, time and again, that religion is not against society, but indeed promotes it. What caused the creation of the hospital system, the various outreaches begun by St. Vincent de Paul, St. Marianne Cope, St. Katherine Drexel, St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, and so many others? It was clearly their deep conviction in their religious beliefs that God demands justice and love for every human being, no matter how small, weak, or different. Indeed, the saints show us that when Christ is King in our hearts and in our world, then we truly begin to experience the love and peace that He promises us.
Let us pray “Thy Kingdom Come!” every day in everything we do. With every breath may our lives exclaim “Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!” And as we prepare for his future kingdom, we make a throne in our souls for the Lord Jesus to reign this day, when we receive Him in Holy Communion.