Today, the Church throughout the world celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, which is often simplified and called, “Christ the King.” On this high feast day, it’s good to reflect upon what is means that Jesus Christ is king and what is expected from us as we make this declaration.

While there are many avenues that can help us answer these questions, perhaps it’s best to start with the virtue of religion. As human beings, we have been made by God and exist for God. As such, we are hard-wired for worship. We have a fundamental, existential need to offer true worship to the living God. If we don’t worship him, we will end up worshipping something else. And that “something else” tends to be ourselves. We easily fall prey to self-worship.

God is our everything, and if this is not acknowledged, and it doesn’t lead us to worship, then we pursue other things that can never truly satisfy or hearts. We can end up drifting aimlessly from one emotional fulfillment to another. We can end up living fragmented lives, with no lasting foundation and no source of enduring joy.

As Pope Francis teaches us: It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King.

Our life truly begins, and finds its deepest meaning, in the worship of God. It is an unavoidable decision. Not making a decision, is a decision itself, since such neglect will lead us to self-worship.  We are called and invited to make the living God the true king of our lives. If we want to live abundantly, we must turn our worshipping nature to God and adore him with all our hearts.

Will we humble ourselves and worship the living God? Or will we deny this call to worship and  manipulate it into some form of self-worship?

Poe Francis emphasizes this point, saying: “Today Jesus asks us to allow him to become our king. A king who, with his word, his example and his life immolated on the cross saved us from death, and — this king — indicates the path to those who are lost, gives new light to our existence marred by doubt, by fear and by everyday trials.”

God is our eternal Creator, who cares for us by his divine Providence, and – as such – we owe him our homage and gratitude. God’s goodness should humble us to declare him the king of our lives. If we want to live a full life, existentially satisfied with peace in our hearts, then we must exercise the virtue of religion and accept God as the king of our lives.

The word “religion” comes from a Latin word meaning “to bind oneself.” And so, our acceptance of the virtue of religion is a total binding of ourselves to God. It involves a proper worship of him, a way of life, and a community that flows from that worship, as well as the many customs and traditions that surround such a community life.

In the binding of ourselves to God in the virtue of religion, we recognize that our lives are not our own. We do not live only for ourselves. Religion includes a death to self and our fallenness, the joining of a community, a selfless love of others, and a commitment to true worship.

The virtue of religion begins with a free choice by each of us to reciprocate God’s love, to give him his due, to properly worship him above all things, and so declare him as the king of our lives.

On this solemnity of Christ the King, all believers are once again encouraged to renew their commitment to Jesus Christ and to declare him the king of their hearts and homes, and to allow this dedication to lead them to true worship and lasting adoration of his goodness and kindness.

With this dispositions in our heart, we echo the words of Pope Francis: “Each day we pray: Lord, may your kingdom come. With these words, we want our own lives and actions to become a hymn of praise.”

Follow Father Jeffrey Kirby on Twitter: @fatherkirby