O Rex Gentium

Source: District of Asia

The prophets frequently bestow this glorious title on the Messiah. The Angel of the Annunciation, too, spoke to Mary of "the throne of David His father" and of His kingdom "to which there will be no end". We know in what kind of palace He chose to be born, and to what kind of throne they will raise Him before He leaves the earth. Nevertheless, as He confessed before Pilate, He is King, and His Kingdom is the Kingdom of Truth; though it is not of this world, His Kingdom must be established in this world, be spread in it, and be restored to the Father when at the end of time it shall be perfect.

Petition: The grace to receive Him with due honour when He enters into His Kingdom; the grace to establish His reign firmly in our own hearts, and to spread it by prayer and labour in the hearts of others. "Thy Kingdom come!"

I. O King of the Nations, Long-desired, O Corner- stone That Bindest Together That Which Hath Fallen Apart

The prophet saw in a vision what the Messiah is by right, and what He will be in fact in the remote future. "And all kings of the earth shall adore him, all nations shall serve him" (Ps. 71:11). Will this be fulfilled literally one day; or must He who is seated on the throne first renew all things?

When He walked the earth, His own nation would not have Him as their king; nor would He Himself accept the kingship of which Israel was dreaming and which alone they would offer Him (Jn. 6: 15). His Kingdom is a Kingdom of Truth and of Life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of Justice, of Love, of Peace. Truly, such a kingdom is not, and never shall be, of this world. And yet He is "the expectation of nations" (Gen. 49:10).

In our modern world we hear, far and near, shouts that sound like echoes of those uttered by the Jews before the Praetorium of Pilate; but "do they know what they are doing?" Rooted in the very nature of every man's soul there is an indestructible yearning for truth and life, for justice, love and peace, put there by the Creator. It is by the door of that yearning that the Saviour seeks to enter-not, however, by force of arms-to establish His own Kingdom in the minds and hearts of men.

"The corner-stone that binds together what has fallen apart." This figure of speech, first used by the prophets, was taken up by St Paul to designate Christ as the One who puts an end to all human dissensions and lays the foundation of true unity: He is our peace, who hath made both (i.e., Jews and Gentiles) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of Partition (Eph. 2:14). And to impress upon the minds of his neophytes how deeply this union of all in Christ affects our being, St Paul accumulates the amazing denials, "There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).

Compared to this, how superficial and petty are the differences and the causes of conflict that divide men! But, as St Augustine says, we are like vessels of clay that get into the way of one another: where one happens to stand, there is no room for the others; what one possesses cannot belong to his neighbour. This is what happens in a world ruled by greed and jealousy: "in Christ Jesus" it may not be so: in Him all possess all things. His own Kingdom He will establish, in a way that is not the way of the world. In Him extremes meet: God and man; in Him "justice and peace have kissed" (Ps. 84:11)..

II. Come and Save Man, Whom Thou Didst Mould Out of the Earthly Slime

When we survey the modern world, which has abolished distance but has erected iron curtains, raised colour bars, and is indulging in armament races; or when we look into our own souls, we soon realise that man still needs salvation. God moulded us out of slime, but to His own image and likeness. Now, what is slime in us binds us to matter: we have base inclinations, we stand in one another's way and collide. God's likeness in us draws us upward and seeks to unite. It is God's own Hand that lifts us unto Himself, but He has to disentangle us from the slime.

Because He loves us with a boundless love, He leaves heaven, as it were and assumes in the womb of an immaculate Virgin Mother an earthy body like ours, in order to deliver us from all that separates us from Himself and divides us from one another.

In "the body of His humility" He is about to appear among us. Around the manger that will serve Him for a cradle, we shall find His holy Mother, His saintly foster-father, some shepherds of Bethlehem and Wise Men from the East; and, hovering above it, angels of God that announce good tidings of great joy and sing about peace to men of good will.

Prayer: "O King of the nations, long-desired; O Corner stone that binds together what has fallen apart, come and deliver man whom Thou hast moulded out of the slime to Thy likeness."