On the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we can rest in the assurance that the universe is good. And that includes every one of us.
The unusually long title of the “Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe” always makes me think of the array of stars and galaxies ruled by God in His infinite power. As the prophet Baruch said, He is “the one who sends forth the light, and it goes; He calls it, and it obeys him, trembling.” (Bar 3:33).
In all its vast mystery, the astronomical universe never fails to provoke awe and wonder. Yet the title “King of the Universe” proclaims more than Christ as “ruler of stars.” The word “universe” really just means everything. Jesus is the King of the Universe because He is the origin, the pattern, the sustainer of everything that exists. And that is why this ultimate feast of the liturgical year is the perfect time to ponder what it means that our God defined Himself as “I AM WHO AM” (c.f. Ex 3:14). God is Being itself. Sheer existence.
Sometimes such metaphysical concepts can seem abstract and not worth puzzling over in daily life. But they really do matter. If we don’t understand who God is, we cannot understand even ourselves. Everything that is, that exists, that isreal,shares in the Being, the “is-ness” of God. Each of us has a unique essence, the special pattern that is “me.” This essence belongs to each distinct individual, but it emanates from the mind of God. Every rock, flower, tree, star and galaxy has its blueprint in Jesus the Word of God. Each human person, fashioned in His image and likeness, reflects in a deeper way a unique aspect of Christ. But our existence, the fact that we are is more than that. Only God has being in Himself alone. Everything else exists through a participation in God’s own existence.
And so, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, everything that exists is good. Everything real is good because it shares in the perfection of God who is the ultimate Good. I may have many moral failings, weaknesses and sins – but ultimately I am good. My being, my life is good because God wills me to be. Nothing can change that except God Himself. And He never changes.
Recently, the Sisters of Life were doing some street evangelization outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. We invited a young man in to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He looked like he had lived a rough life, perhaps filled with drugs and hard knocks. As he was leaving, we bid him goodnight and he looked at us amazed and said: “Sisters, do you still see good in me?”
No matter how far we may feel from God, He is still the ground of our existence. He didn’t just create us and walk away. He sustains us in being at each moment. And so there will always be good in us.
He looked like he had lived a rough life, perhaps filled with drugs and hard knocks. As he was leaving, we bid him goodnight and he looked at us amazed and said: “Sisters, do you still see good in me?”
When we kneel in Adoration before Christ in the Eucharist, it boggles the mind to consider that Being itself is somehow contained in what appears to be a piece of bread. But is it really that much more extraordinary than the reality that Existence was contained in a tiny infant in the womb of the Blessed Mother? If an artist judges something he has created is not good, he will discard or destroy it. But if God were to deem something He created to be not good, it would not simply be annihilated; it would never have existed in the first place. But God still sees each one of us as good. In fact, God sent His Son to suffer and die so that none of us need be estranged from the source of our own existence. Even if we refuse to accept His mercy and so condemn ourselves to Hell, He will continue to sustain us even there. Even the Devil himself is still good in his being.
Jesus reveals to us that not only is He our King, to whom we owe reverence and obedience, He is the origin of our existence, of the universe, of everything. On the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we can rest in the assurance that the universe is good. And that includes every one of us. No matter the circumstances of my life, the mistakes I’ve made, my sufferings, longings or griefs – it is good that I am because it is good to be.