ROME – The Kingdom of God takes its power from the strength of Christ’s love, not the strength of the sword, Pope Francis said Sunday, on the feast of Christ the King.
History shows that kingdoms built on the power of arms, or on an abuse of power, do not last, the pope said Nov. 25. “But the kingdom of God is founded on his love and rooted in hearts… giving peace, freedom and fullness of life to those who welcome it.”
Pope Francis reflected on the Kingdom of God during his Angelus address for the feast day, the full name of which is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Celebrating this day, which is set at the end of the liturgical year, the pope said, “recalls that the life of creation does not advance by chance but proceeds towards a final goal: The definitive manifestation of Christ, Lord of history and of all creation.”
Francis noted that in the day’s Gospel passage from John, Catholics hear at Mass the story of when Jesus was questioned by Pontius Pilate, before being sent to his crucifixion. In this scene, Pilate twice asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”
The first time, Jesus answers that his kingdom “is not of this world,” Pope Francis said. The second time, Jesus says, “you say I am a king.”
“Jesus wants to make it clear,” the pope explained, “that above political power there is another much greater one, which is not achieved by human means. He came to earth to exercise this power, which is love, bearing witness to the truth.”
“This is the divine truth that is ultimately the essential message of the Gospel: ‘God is love’ and wants to establish in the world his kingdom of love, justice and peace,” he said.
Today, Jesus is asking every person to let him be their king: A king who sacrificed himself upon the cross, saving his people from death, he said. Christ the King casts light on a life marked “by doubt, by fear and by the trials of every day.”
“But we must not forget that the kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. He will be able to give a new meaning to our life, sometimes put to the test even by our mistakes and our sins, only on the condition that we do not follow the logic of the world and its ‘kings,’” he concluded.
After the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled the Nov. 24 commemoration of the anniversary of Holodomor, “a terrible famine” in Ukraine from 1932-1933, which was caused by the Soviet regime, and resulted in millions of victims.
“Imagine the sorrow,” Francis said. “The immense wound of the past is a call for all so that such tragedies are repeated never again. We pray for that dear country and for the much-desired peace.”