In Catholic tradition, the Feast of Christ the King is the final Sunday of the liturgical year. And it comes with the quiet of the end of Thanksgiving weekend, a break from bouts of shopping, travel and celebration. It offers the chance of looking back and pushing forward, an ending and a beginning with all the paradoxes that life offers.
There is irony, of course, in the principle of a king in modern eras. With power vested in parliaments and diets, assemblies and bureaus, there is a certain nostalgia for the loyalty and unity that monarchy implies. Closing the year this way is a recognition of the centrality of Christ, the shared sense that this ending is about the relationship between King and subject, King and community. Images embedded in the sacred music of the day summon both the grandeur and the tenderness of a monarch and the trust and confidence of a people loyal and unafraid. Past transgressions, the weaknesses, are forgotten in a celebration of connection and peace. Subjects and monarch proceed together to face the challenge of inevitable change of new beginnings.
There is a tidiness to the concept which somehow obscures and makes manageable the messy details of life. It is a reminder that each of us is part of a kingdom far greater than self, and no one of us is alone on the journey of becoming and believing. To trust so radically in a kingdom not vested in the earth-bound is, by itself, supernatural. And so, the feast which marks the end of the year opens a treasure chest of questions about relationships, trust, courage and strength, about desires and belonging and becoming. It invites reflection, self-evaluation, purpose and hope. Most of all, it is a reminder that power rests in the hands and heart of the subject; the choices and decisions theirs alone. The monarch waits.