VATICAN CITY (VIS) - On the Solemnity of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Pope told the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that today's feast, though "established relatively recently, nonetheless has deep biblical roots".
"The tile of 'King' applied to Jesus is very important in the Gospels and allows us to gain a full understanding of His person and His mission of salvation. ... When Jesus is placed upon the cross, the Jewish leaders mock Him saying: 'He is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him'. The truth is that, precisely because He is the Son of God, Jesus gave Himself up freely to His Passion, and the cross is the paradoxical sign of His royalty which consists in the victory of the love of God the Father over the disobedience of sin".
Yet, the Holy Father asked, "in what does Jesus' 'regal' power consist? It is not that of the kings and leaders of the world; it is the divine power to give eternal life, to free people from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of love which knows how to draw good from evil, to soften hardened hearts, to bring peace to the harshest conflict, to enkindle hope in the murkiest darkness.
"This Kingdom of Grace never imposes itself and always respects our freedom. Christ came 'to testify to the truth'. ... It is necessary then, for each conscience to make a choice: whom to follow? ... Opting for Christ does not guarantee success according to the criteria of the world, but it does ensure the peace and joy that only He can give. This is apparent, in every age, from the experience of so many men and women who, in Christ's name, in the name of truth and justice, have shown themselves capable of resisting the lure of earthly power in its various disguises, even to the point of crowning their faithfulness with martyrdom".