No Matter Who Wins the Election, Christ is Still King

Fr. Mike Liledahl

No Matter Who Wins the Election, Christ is Still King

“This is the most important election of our lifetime”. I’ve heard my television yell this at me frequently over the past few weeks. If I check social media, a quick scroll of my friends’ posts and retweeted articles seems to confirm this axiom. Honestly, it seems as though each presidential election of my life has had this tagline applied to it, and although it is possible that every four years has been a heightened importance, there has to be an end to it, right? 

Thankfully, we know that we will declare a winner and a loser of the election and the process will reset itself on its’ four year trek to yet another climax of import. But how do we stop getting caught in this cycle of having so many of our hopes, fears, thoughts, and anxieties resting on the presidential election? I suggest following another cycle, a yearly cycle of the liturgical year and letting the upcoming Feast of Christ the King provide the antidote. 

Before getting into the Feast of Christ the King and how it can be an antidote for election fatigue or for the temptation to put our hopes in politics, I do need to acknowledge the proper role of politics in our culture. Politics is necessary. If we have a society comprised of varying viewpoints and comprising as many people as our American society comprises, we are going to have competing views of what is the common good. Not only are we going to have competing ideas of what the common good actually is but also how to best prudentially put the common good into action. The marketplace where these ideas on what comprises the common good and how to put it into action is what happens, in a very basic level, in politics. I am well aware that although this may be the core of politics, there are a lot of cancerous ideas that get grafted onto this that enrage a lot of people. But, at its core, this is politics and it is necessary for our society to survive. 

The process of taking the church’s perennial teachings and applying them in a prudential way in the marketplace of politics properly belongs to the lay-person. It is not the role of clerics to engage in partisan politics. This is not to say that it is not the role of clerics to speak out about moral issues that might also be political issues, but in the general sense it is inappropriate for a cleric to endorse a particular candidate or party in an election. 

This article is also not denying the fact that there are some serious issues facing our country right now, issues that the two major candidates for president have wildly different views on and approaches on how to deal with them. For that, I will say that this election is important. Every presidential election is important. But what I’ve seen from many people is that politics and political ideologies and candidates have replaced God for them. They have made politics their god, and worship on the altars of polls and feast upon the schadenfreude of their political opponents.

As important as this, or any, election may be it does not give us permission to violate the first commandment. Replacing God with the graven image of political power or political figures is a very real temptation in our society. We must remember one thing…NO MATTER WHO WINS THE ELECTION JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE!

November of this year will not only see the presidential election but also the yearly feast that concludes the liturgical year- the Feast of Christ the King. This feast is, relatively speaking, new to the calendar as it was first celebrated in 1925, under the direction of Pope Pius XI. But the historical situation in 1925 leads us to see the wisdom in his institution of the feast. World War One had just ended and many countries were in the midst of severe upheaval in their political structure, most notably the Soviet Union following their communist revolution.

In the midst of all the changes in major, long standing monarchies across Europe, Pope Pius XI thought it appropriate to institute the feast reminding the people, at the close of the liturgical year, that admits all the uncertainty of their lives, of their countries, of their politics, that there was always one constant-- Jesus Christ is King. It’s a reminder as needed in 2020 as it was in 1925. 

So, as you go to the polls, as you cast your vote, as you watch the returns come in, and as you watch somebody be declared the winner of this election-- remember: even if the commercials are right and this is the most important election of our lifetime, more important than that is the fact, and yes it is a fact, that JESUS CHRIST IS KING!