By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc
JESUS CHRIST is King indeed, not as the kings of the earth are, but in a far nobler way. The secret of His power lies in His Sacred Heart, the fountain and source of penetrating and life-giving love. This love He exercises with strong and sweet power in the very depths of our hearts, conquering all reluctance and leading mankind as trophies of His victory, to the throne of His eternal Father.
But if Jesus is the King of our hearts, it is needful that He should be adorned with all the qualities and prerogatives which pertain to His royal dignity. Just as the Father had decreed that His Son made Man should be indeed King and Lord of the universe, so it was His will that He should be endowed with all those gifts -and prerogatives which should accompany so great a dignity and ensure its fruitful exercise. Now, the prerogatives -necessary in him who comes as a king to rule over his people are those very attributes which arise out of the duties inherent in that dignity. Let us see, then, what these duties are; but before hand, it is necessary to dispel a false notion about authority which has crept into the world of late.
Indeed, it would be a great mistake to judge of the royal dignity of our divine Saviour ac cording to the modern standard regarding the origin of authority. According to these principles, a sovereign is but the representative of the people from whom he derives the authority, which he only displays subject to their will. This standard, erroneous when applied to earthly kings, becomes altogether heretical if applied to the King of our hearts. As all authority comes from God, so the full power that Jesus possesses over mankind was received from His Father, who established His only-begotten Son made Man, King and Sovereign of the universe in the fullest sense of the word. At the same time, He ordained that Jesus, in exercising over His subjects those exalted
functions, those sublime offices, which are proper to the regal dignity, should be endowed with all the qualities and prerogatives necessary to the suitable fulfillment of these offices and which ensure their happy issue. Now, what are these offices?
In the first place, one invested with regal dignity is, by that very fact, placed over other people, as their leader find guide. To him, therefore, wisdom and prudence are needful in order that he may lead his subjects by virtuous paths to their wished-for happiness. Beyond that/a king ought to be the father of his people, and as such, he should provide for their welfare and supply their necessities. Therefore, he must love them unfeignedly, with a love rooted in the depths of his heart, not for the sake of his own advantage but for the good of his people. Moreover, the sovereign must be, as it were, the judge of his people, and as the living rule of justice. He must therefore, by the equity of his decisions, seek to re-establish the order of justice and peace where it has been destroyed. Hence, he should harbor in his heart a high sense of what is honest and just, together with an in-
tense desire to combat iniquity and render justice triumphant.
But besides these interior qualities, a king must also possess those prerogatives which secure happy and lasting results to his activities among his people. Being their born defender, he should arm himself with courage in order to wage war against the enemies of his country. Beyond that, it is his part to supply his subjects' necessities; he must, therefore, have at his disposal a sufficient treasury with which to relieve the poor and needy and prevent their suffering, misery and hunger. Lastly, in order that a king may suitably display his beneficent action toward his subjects, it is necessary that he should be revered and obeyed by them as is befitting. To this end he must be surrounded with a halo of majesty which should distinguish him from others and assure him their homage and reverence.
Now, all these qualities proper to good kings and necessary in those who govern for the good of their people, God conferred abundantly on His only-begotten Son made Man. When appointing Him King over mankind, He endowed Him with the aforesaid prerogatives in order that He should exercise His high office as King of our hearts in all its perfection. With sentiments of infinite complacency the Father enriched His Son with wisdom and prudence to reign over the people committed to His care: " Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips!" (Ps. XLIV, 3.) He poured into His heart a deep-rooted love for the people whom He came to save: "Christ hath loved us and hath delivered himself up for us" (Eph. V, 2.) He inspired Him with a high sense of justice to discern good from evil: "The scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of uprightness" (PS. XLIV, 9.) He gave Him irresistible force to conquer all His enemies: "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty" (Ps. XLIV, 4.) He enriched Him with His treasure of riches so that He might scatter it among His people: "Glory and wealth shall be in his house" (Ps . CXI, 3.) Finally He crowned Him with a halo of majesty and glory which extorts wonder and homage even from His enemies: "With thy comeliness and thy beauty, set out, proceed prosperously, and reign" (Ps. XLIV, 5.)
Along with all this, we must remember that the kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ is not worldly but spiritual; that He conquers not by the sword, but by love; that He is not King over our bodies only, but rather, and indeed especially, that He is King and Center of all hearts, as is given us to understand by the emblem of His most Sacred Heart under which we love to venerate and adore Him.
But it is time that we should pass on to consider, one by one, these beautiful prerogatives of the Heart of Jesus. Thus shall we endeavor to grow in love toward Him; for the better we know this tender King of our hearts, the more inclined are we to love Him and to be united to Him.