Solemnity of Christ the King
For in [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead corporeally. And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10)
It is clear enough that, in his divinity, our Savior is head of both angels and men, for the reign of God extends to every creature. It was through the eternal Word that all things were made, and therefore we may well attribute divine authority and kingship to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
However, we may well ask whether, as man, Jesus is rightly called the King of the Angels. The angels were not created through the humanity of Christ, nor (it seems) were they redeemed through his sacred humanity – for he became man in order to save men, but the good angels were already saved.
Therefore, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, we ask whether Christ is the King of the angels in his humanity.
The one Person of Jesus, in two natures
Though Christ is one Person, he yet had two natures. Thus, we may predicate things of Christ according to either his human or his divine natures. And, some things which are predicated of him as God, are not predicated of him as man. While there are other things predicated of him as man, but not as God. Finally, there are even some things predicated of our Savior both as God and as man, but according to different respects.
According to his divinity, Jesus is the Creator of the universe. As man, the Eternal Word is not the Creator, but only as God. However, we must admit that Jesus is the Author of all life, since he is truly the Creator in his divinity, though not in his humanity.
According to his humanity, God the Son died upon the Cross. As God, Jesus did not and could not die, but only as man. Still, we must profess that God himself was put to death upon the Cross, since Jesus’ soul was truly separated from his body, though not according to his divnity.
Finally, we say that Jesus is our Savior both as God and as man, but in differing respects. As God, Jesus is our very salvation itself – since the divine nature is the salvation and eternal happiness of the blessed. However, as man, the Lord is not salvation per se but he is rather the cause of our Salvation. Still, he is truly called our Savior as man (insofar as his humanity is the cause of our salvation) and he is truly called our Savior as God (insofar as the divine nature is our salvation itself).
Thus, while it is obvious that Jesus is the King of the angels as God (and thus, Jesus of Nazareth is truly called the King of the angels in his divinity), we may well ask whether he is also their King in his humanity. Is Jesus the King of the angels as man?
The Kingship and Headship of Christ over all men
The Lord Jesus is the King of all men in his humanity, and this in three respects.
First, Christ’s humanity is closest to God among all creatures. Therefore, as man, our Savior is rightly said to be the Head and King of all men.
Secondly, Our Savior’s human nature is most perfect in grace and in glory, and he is exalted above all men. Thus, he is rightly called there King as being wholly superior to all.
Thirdly, since all men receive both grace and glory through the mediation of Christ’s human nature, Jesus is rightly said to be the Head and King of all men in his humanity.
Christ, as man, is Head and King of the angels
We may ask, however, whether Christ is the Head and King of the angels in his human nature. This question arises from the fact that he was made a little lower than the angels by becoming man – since men are lower than angels by nature, we may ask whether Christ could be truly said to be the King of the angels as a man.
Additionally, we must add that it does not seem that the angels were saved through the humanity of Christ, since Jesus came not to save angels but men. Hence, since the angels did not receive their salvation through the humanity of Christ, it may at first seem that he is only their King according to his divinity.
Let us be clear, however, there can be no doubt that the man Jesus of Nazareth is the King and Head of the angels, at least in his divinity (and we will now see that he is their King also in his humanity).
St. Thomas Aquinas proves that Christ must be the Head and King of the angels in his humanity insofar as both angels and men are united in the Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, though men and angels are of diverse natures (and each angel is of his own nature), all are called to one same glory and salvation. Therefore, we must admit that there are not two mystical bodies in heaven, but only one Mystical Body which is constituted of both the good angels and of the saints.
Through his being raised to glory and through the perfection of the union of divinity with his most sacred humanity, we must admit that Jesus is greater than all the angels even as man. Even while upon earth, our Savior was King of the angels, which truth is manifest through the fact that the angels ministered to him.
Indeed, the Church professes that the angels worship the Father through the humanity of Christ – and this truth is affirmed in the preface at Holy Mass. Precisely as the lower angels praise God through the medium of the higher angels, all the angels worship God through the most perfect humanity of Jesus.
Thus, although Jesus did not save the angels in his humanity, we still say that he is their King as man, since he is exalted over all the angels through the union of his human nature with the divinity. Because his humanity is the most perfect creature, he is Head and King of the angels even as man.
Is Christ the King also of Satan and the fallen angels?
While we may rightly say that Satan is the head and king of the fallen angels and of the damned, we must nevertheless insist that Christ is yet truly the King even of the damned.
The reign of Jesus (as man) extends over the damned not as giving them grace and glory, but as punishing them for all eternity. Truly, he will gather all things to himself – either through the chains of love, or through the chains of punishment and damnation. All things, even Satan and death itself, are subject to Christ’s humanity; therefore, we must admit that Jesus is King of Satan and of the fallen angels, not unto their salvation but unto their eternal condemnation and judgment.
O most holy Heart of Jesus, shower Thy blessings in abundant measure upon Thy holy Church, upon the Supreme Pontiff and upon all the clergy; to the just grant perseverance; convert sinners; enlighten unbelievers; bless our relations, friends and benefactors; assist the dying; deliver the holy souls in purgatory; and extend over all hearts the sweet empire of Thy love. Amen.