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The Reign of Christ

This Sunday, November 26th we celebrate with the church around the world the Reign of Christ. The feast day was first celebrated in 1925 in the aftermath and devastation of World War 1. In the failure of worldly kings, political systems, and nation-states resulting in War and death - the church reiterated the importance of recognizing Christ as our one true King.

As we know, one of the main underlying causes of World War 1 was nationalism: the

identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.

In his 1948 essay, Notes on Nationalism1 , George Orwell brilliantly expands the definition of Nationalism to mean the habit of identifying oneself not only with a single nation but also with another unit, a class, church, religious denomination, or political party, or cause, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

Orwell expands nationalism more simply as “the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige.” Nationalism becomes a very emotional and visceral phenomenon as one celebrates the triumphs, and feels and suffers the defeats of one’s chosen tribe. Orwell would label today’s units as conservative or liberal, Catholic or Protestant, local or new-comer, pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, or even supporting the Leafs or Habs!

In joining or allying ourselves with a group, we then become willing to support our tribe/unit beyond all reason or rationality. This expanded definition of nationalism helps us to better understand the phenomenon of national division, polarization, and lack of rational discourse in public life today.

The Feast of the Reign of Christ reminds us that the Risen Christ, who sits at the right hand of God, is the one true King of nations. Christ the Good Shepherd willingly lays down his life to save us. Christ our King teaches us to love and serve one another, especially those in need. In so doing, we serve the King, Jesus, himself. A remarkable and revolutionary aspect of the early church was that previously warring nations and ethnic groups came to break bread together in celebrating the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Eucharist. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:

There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

The Reign of Christ pacifies the evils of nationalism.

Fr. Jon Lavelle

1 You can find the full text of Orwell’s, Notes on Nationalism, online:

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