Dear brothers and sisters,
Today the Church celebrates Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe. This solemnity comes at the end of the liturgical year and sums up the mystery of Jesus “first born from the dead and the ruler of all the powers of the earth” (Collect, Year B), directing our gaze toward the perfect realization of the Kingdom of God, when God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28). St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: “We proclaim not only the Lord’s first coming but also a second coming that is much more beautiful than the first. The first, in fact, was a manifestation of suffering, the second is crowned with the diadem of divine royalty … in the first he was subjected to the humiliation of the cross, in the second he is surrounded and glorified by a throng of angels” (Catechesis XV,1 “Illuminandorum, De secundo Christi adventu,” PG 33, 869 A). The whole mission of Jesus and the content of his message consist in proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven and of establishing it among men with signs and wonders. “But,” as the Second Vatican Council observes, “the Kingdom is first of all manifested in the very person of Christ” (“Lumen gentium,” 5), which he founded through his death on the cross and resurrection, through which he is revealed as the eternal Lord and Messiah and Priest. This Kingdom of Christ has been entrusted to the Church, which is the “seed” and “beginning” and has the task of announcing it and spreading it among all the nations with the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid.). At the end of the determined time the Lord will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father and will present to him all who have lived by the commandment of love.
Dear friends, we are all called to prolong the salvific work of God, converting to the Gospel, firmly deciding to follow that King who has not come to be served but to serve and to bear witness to the truth (cf. Mark 10:45; John 18:37). In this connection I invite everyone to pray for the 6 new cardinals that I created yesterday, that the Holy Spirit strengthen them in faith and in charity and fill them with his gifts so that they live their new responsibility as a further commitment to Christ and his Kingdom. These new members of the College of Cardinals represent well the universal dimension of the Church: they are Pastors of Churches in Lebanon, in India, in Nigeria, in Colombia, in the Philippines and one of them has been in the service of the Holy See for some time.
Let us invoke the protection of Mary Most Holy for each of them and the faithful entrusted to their service. May the Virgin help all of us to live this present time in expectation of the Lord’s return, fervently imploring God: “Thy Kingdom Come,” and doing those works of light that bring us ever closer to heaven, aware that, in the tormenting vicissitudes of history, God continues to build his Kingdom of love.