Jesus' kingdom is not established by force, but through the free choices of every individual.
Often the word “king” stirs up images of an oppressive ruler, who sits on his throne and orders his subjects to obey him. Yet, Jesus Christ is called “king,” but his kingship is not of this world and does not operate in a forceful manner.
Pope Benedict XVI reflected on this reality in an Angelus message in 2009.
This Kingdom of Grace is never imposed and always respects our freedom. Christ came “to bear witness to the truth” (Jn 18: 37), as he declared to Pilate: whoever accepts his witness serves beneath his “banner,” according to the image dear to St Ignatius of Loyola. Every conscience, therefore, must make a choice. Who do I want to follow? God or the Evil One? The truth or falsehood? Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the world’s criteria but assures the peace and joy that he alone can give us. This is demonstrated, in every epoch, by the experience of numerous men and women who, in Christ’s name, in the name of truth and justice, were able to oppose the enticements of earthly powers with their different masks, to the point that they sealed their fidelity with martyrdom.
Jesus did not force his apostles to follow him, nor does he force us today. He stretches his hands out to us, inviting us to become part of his kingdom.
It’s entirely up to us to follow him. We can reject the offer, or fully accept it, finding peace in freely following the truth.
Whenever we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, we should ask ourselves the same question, “Who do I want to follow? Who is my king?“
Make your choice freely and with your whole heart.