“I am King of Mercy”
– Diary of St Faustina, entry #88
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, acts as a marker of sorts, both temporal and eschatological. It marks time – both now, in the current liturgical year, whose end it denotes; but also at the broader level of time itself, which will one day end. And with that ending comes a beginning – the glorious reign of Christ the eternal King.
This Solemnity brings us to the close of Ordinary Time in this particular year and ushers us into the season of Advent, that watchful period which lets us prepare spiritually for Christmas. Throughout this period, we are constantly looking ahead, gazing with anticipation into the future which awaits us.
Originally called the feast of Christ the King, this Solemnity was established by Pope Pius XI almost one hundred years ago, in 1925, and it was intended as a warning against secularism, the sense of life without thought of God. It was meant to keep God – and eternity – in our minds eye, to remind us that He is the beginning and the end of all things, including us.
In the Diary of St Faustina, these twin themes of the Kingship of Christ and of the end of time, are also clearly present.
In the fifth notebook of her Diary, St Faustina writes about the Lord speaking to her regarding His reluctance to deal out justice to mankind. The passage ends with these words – “Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy” (entry #1588). Much earlier, in the second notebook of her Diary, St Faustina records the Lord noting that the establishment of the Feast of Mercy is itself an act of Divine Mercy, a means of gaining Heaven –
“Souls perish in spite my My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near” (entry #965).
Emphasising this same thought, the Lord is recorded elsewhere in the Diary saying this –
“Speak to the world about My mercy. Let all mankind recognise my unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice” (entry #848).
And so, clearly, the devotion to the Lord as Divine Mercy points us to the end times and reminds us of that final day which is approaching, but whose nearness we do not know; Divine Mercy is our final hope for salvation before the day of Divine Justice. Mercy and Justice are two doors – we will pass through one of them.
The Church herself directs us to thoughts of the end of time, when, in the Roman Calendar for this Solemnity, she notes that through the choosing of this particular Sunday, the last one of Ordinary Time, “the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer”. It is given the rank of a Solemnity, the highest rank of a liturgical feast day, and the fact it is celebrated on a Sunday is unusual, as Sunday represents the Resurrection of the Lord and few feasts are celebrated then as the Resurrection takes precedence. Clearly, then, the Church is pointing us toward something she considers to be very important.
All of this correlates with the theme of the Kingship of Christ as it is presented to us in the Gospels, where the Lord links His Kingship to His coming again in glory at the end of time. This is echoed in the Divine Office for the Solemnity of Christ the King –
“The Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His ancestor; He will reign in the House of Jacob for ever and His kingdom will know no end” – ‘Magnificat’ antiphon for Evening Prayer I of Christ the King.
The Lord tells us that no-one knows the day or the hour when this final day will come – it may be tomorrow or it may be a thousand years from now. Only the Eternal Father knows. But we do know that with every day that passes, it is a day closer to us. That alone should spur us on to consider the reality and meaning of this day, and to make preparation for it. And that, really, is precisely why we celebrate this Solemnity.
Christ the King, have mercy on us.