My reconversion to the faith came through a lay movement whose main feast was Christ the King, so today’s feast feels homey and nostalgic to me. It was through this community that I learned to pray the morning offering. This prayer starts my days with offering to Jesus, through Mary, all “my prayers, works, joys, and suffering of this day” for the salvation of souls. I get to participate in saving souls by giving to Jesus the very things that make me human: relationships, toil, emotion, and hardship.
As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King today, what strikes me in the reading is the repetition of the notion that Jesus should “save himself.” To “save myself” is a mantra the world still chants through self-help books, YouTube videos, and improvement programs. I’ve gotten sucked into the promise too many times that I will be better, do better, and feel better if only I . . . (fill in the blank).
If only I were better at handling my emotions, I wouldn’t have to ask forgiveness so often in my relationships. If only I had a better daily routine, I wouldn’t fall asleep feeling like there was so much still left to do. If only I didn’t have so much to do around the house, I would be more joyful when the kids asked to do something fun. Instead, I feel the growing pressure of one more thing, one more thing, one more thing. And if only I were good, I wouldn’t have to suffer.
That’s what saving myself sounds like, and honestly, I wish I could. I think the process would be less messy than forgiveness and humility, surrender and acceptance. Couldn’t I save myself this messy middle—the messiness of the cross—and get to victory on my own? But I’ve tried. And it has turned out the same time and time again: the anxiety caused by performing, the depression as a result of disappointment, the fear of failure at each bend of the road.
I want so badly to save and master myself and be able to offer to others sage wisdom, a compassionate ear, an impressive hack to life’s atrocities. The truth is that there is only one who can save.
His name is Jesus. It is only Jesus who saves. The very essence of Christianity is that I am incapable of rectifying the relationship broken between me and the Father because of my choices, and that I’m in need of a savior.
Today’s Solemnity honors Christ’s kingship, won through obedience. He didn’t save himself. He obeyed the Father, surrendering his life and accepting death and suffering. I am in need of saving for I have been condemned justly, for the sentence [I] received corresponds to [my] crimes
So, I lean into being saved by another. I can be exactly who I am, where I find myself, messy in my progress. I trust that I have a savior who knows the areas of my life that require his tender compassion: Today you will be with me . . . He is Savior, he is King. Save us and remember us, Lord!