“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14: 15).

A “commandment” refers to an order from an authority, and comes from the Old French word, commander – “to enjoin”, “to order”, and “to entrust” (Online Etymology Dictionary, n.d.). This entrustment has to come from someone who wields the supreme authority, who has, in military terms, a complete overview of the military operations, and the war.

Jesus here, has committed to us his Faithful, some laws that need to be adhered to.

These words, also remind us of the sovereign authority that Jesus has over all of creation:

“When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.” (John 17:1-2)

We know instinctively that Jesus is King – we pray and profess this in the Creed – “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead  and his kingdom will have no end.” – we see this in the Christian art that adorns our Church. However, what does it really mean for Jesus to be King? Do we believe this?

Jesus is first, our spiritual King. As His words bear testimony to this: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’”

According to Pope Pius XI (1925), Jesus is King – as he reigns in all wills – “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” (Philippians 2: 6-9) perfecting all human will in His divine will.

Jesus is the King because he reigns in all hearts – as John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Pope Pius XI explains that no person will ever love as deeply and as universally as Jesus, who for our sake gave his life for us, hence he is the King of Hearts (1925, 7.).

Due to the mystery of Jesus being fully divine and fully man, the fact that Jesus is King, also takes on a human impetus. As a man, Jesus is affirmed by God our Father as having the mandate to rule – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him.” Pope Pius XI elaborates, “From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures.” (1925, 13.)

The implications of this spiritual and human kingship are tremendous. This means that Jesus, both Divine and Man, rules over us in all spheres and all areas of our lives. While Jesus does not interfere with the power and the authority, welded by earthly kings, as Scripture tells us, Jesus is the King above all other kings – “The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen. Out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he himself will tread out in the wine press the wine of the fury and wrath of God the almighty. He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’” (Revelation 19:14-16) Pope Pius XI (1925) rightly points out that while all authority comes from God our Father, increasingly, is the duty of reverence and obedience to God neglected, and more and more have forgotten the Kingship and rule of Christ. Accordingly, the basis of these earthly kingships has been eroded, and hence, is expedited “human society” “tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation.” (Pope Pius XI, 1925, 18.)

It is thus paramount for us to be acutely aware of the social kingship of Jesus –  that His reign extends to all arenas of our lives – marriage, having children, our families, and our enemies, education, work, profit and wealth, debt, economics, socio-cultural interactions, suffering and difficulty, our vocations and the discernment of them, our ministry and community, our consolations and our desolations… and that we must actively live our lives as His loyal subjects (McCall, 2014). We have a duty to make Christ known, to be bearers of His Good News, and to bring forth the message of the Incarnate Word. The challenge is for us to introduce His Kingship to the world that is in constant flux, that is completely confused, and that which shuns and scorns Jesus. The reality is that our world is desperate for the Kingship of Christ, but seeks its fulfilment in things that take us further and further away from Christ. We are desperate for Christ, but rather than rejoice in truth, we revel in a half-baked lie – “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21)

As Venerable Fulton Sheen eloquently puts it in his weekly radio broadcast, the Catholic Hour:

Why is it that so few realize the seriousness of our present crisis? Partly because men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because it involves too much self-accusation and principally because they have no standards outside of themselves by which to measure their times.  If there is no fixed concept of justice how shall men know it is violated? Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world. The great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on. The tragedy is not that the hairs of our civilization are gray; it is rather our failure to see that they are. The very day Sodom was destroyed, Scripture describes the sun as bright; Balthasar’s realm came to an end in darkness; people saw Noah preparing for the flood one hundred and twenty years before it came, but men would not believe. In the midst of seeming prosperity, world-unity, the decree to the angels goes forth but the masses go on their sordid routines. As our Lord said: “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:38, 39)…

We are witnessing:

1)The liquidation of the economic man, or the assumption that man who is a highly developed animal has no other function in life than to produce and acquire wealth, and then like the cattle in the pastures, be filled with years and die.

2)The liquidation of the idea of the natural goodness of man who has no need of a God to give Him rights, or a Redeemer to salvage him from guilt, because progress is automatic thanks to science-education and evolution, which will one day make man a kind of a god as H.G. Wells said, with his feet on the earth and his hands among the stars.

3)The liquidation of rationalism, or the idea that the purpose of human reason is not to discover the meaning and goal of life, namely the salvation of the soul, but merely to devise new technical advances to make on this earth a city of man to displace the city of God.”

(Sheen, 1947)


As Catholics we cannot live our lives like flotsam or dead driftwood, cruising the surface of water, passively floating where the currents lead us. We are called to a higher and more profound standard of living – One under the banner and command of Christ our King. We are called to fidelity and faithfulness unto the cross of Jesus. We are exhorted to live a higher gallantry and a Christ-like propriety and chivalrousness. (cf. Sparks, 2019). As Chris Sparks writes,

“We are obliged by God to be voices for the voiceless, chivalrous protectors of the defenseless, and to see through eyes enlightened by the Holy Spirit, by merciful love, not by partisan politics or by self-interest. And when we fail to live up to this high standard, we must repent, turn to Jesus, the Divine Mercy, for forgiveness, and penitentially seek to do better next time.” (2019, para. 16.)

Such is what is meant to live out the social kingship of Christ.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan




McCall, B. (2014). To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age. Angelico Press.


Online Etymology Dictionary. (n.d.) Commandment. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved May 11, 2023 from https://www.etymonline.com/word/commandment


Pope Pius XI. (1925). Quas Primas. [Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the Feast of Christ the King]. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.


Sheen, F. (1947, January 26). Signs of our Times. [Radio Broadcast]. The Catholic Hour. W2XBS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhaCjUGamjk


Sparks, C. (2019). Civility and Citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Divine Mercy. Retrieved May 11, 2023 from https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/civility-and-citizens-kingdom-god