True, Good, Beautiful - Christ
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself." Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews." Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
"You made us for yourself, O God, and have directed us toward yourself. Our hearts are restless until we rest in you." (Confessions 1:1) St. Augustine captured poignantly how we are made for God. Today, on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate how we are made for Heaven and recognize Christ’s place in our lives. We are called to enter into communion with God. He is great, and we are small; but he wants us to be with him.
We want God to be King of our minds, of our wills, and of our hearts. In this world, our hearts yearn for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Making Christ King of our minds, our wills, and our hearts, lead us these Transcendentals.
We want God to be King of our minds. He is King of our minds when we think about things the right way, in a manner that corresponds to truth. St. Augustine mentions three types of vision in The Literal Meaning of Genesis. Bodily vision (visio corporalis) is ordinary seeing by our physical eyes. Spiritual vision (visio spiritualis) would be described better as imaginative vision and refers to memories and imagination. Intellectual vision (visio intellectualis) is the highest level of vision and has no direct link to physical objects. Here, we understand the truths of math and geometry, as well as virtues, truth, love, and God. Faith can help to purify our reason. “The Church remains profoundly convinced that faith and reason “mutually support each other”; each influences the other, as they offer to each other a purifying critique and a stimulus to pursue the search for deeper understanding.” (Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 100) If Christ is King of our minds, we will attain the True.
We want God to be King of our wills. If our mind helps us to recognize truth, our wills help us to decide to do what is good and right. It is the basis of all moral action as we are called to act in truth. This corresponds to the reality that Christ is our King. He said: “the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:32) Our capacity to do what is right is diminished by original sin. “Man's capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and skepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 1) We have to train our wills to do what is good. This is why it is important to build up good habits. Our good habits help us to choose what is good regularly and easily. If Christ is King of our wills, we will attain the Good.
We want God to be King of our hearts. This means bringing our emotions into line. Our emotions are spontaneous and difficult to control, but they should be brought in line with reason. This is part of our work in the education of our emotional world. The liturgy can help us in this sense. Romano Guardini wrote in Spirit of the Liturgy that “Dogmatic thought brings release from the thralldom of individual caprice, and from the uncertainty and sluggishness which follow in the wake of emotion. It makes prayer intelligible, and causes it to rank as a potent factor in life.” (Spirit of the Liturgy) Emotion should be part of prayer and indeed many of our prayers are to be felt deeply. Each mass begins with an act of contrition. Our sorrow for our sin prepares us to worship God in spirit and in truth. If Christ is the King of our hearts, we will attain the Beautiful.
Christ has won the right to be our King through his sacrifice on the Cross. What we hear in today’s Gospel reminds us of the claim that he has over us. He is not a harsh lord who tries to force us to do things that we do not want to do. Rather, he is inviting us constantly to enter into the joy that we can find only if we adhere to the truth. “Christ our King! Thy Kingdom Come!”