How We Show Our Respect

Catholicism: What We Do pt. 4

Aside from making the Sign of the Cross, Catholics genuflect when they enter a church. Children learn it at a young age and by the time they are in catechism classes, they seem to do it automatically. Children make this gesture with great respect, as they should.In medieval Europe it was customary to go down on one knee before a king or another highly ranking person. For us in the church it's not quite clear when and how we should show our respect.

Jesus Our King

During my research, I discovered that there are actually a set of rules or guidelines for the structure of the Mass. When we genuflect, we are showing our reverence or respect to the Blessed Sacrament which is in the tabernacle. When the eternal light is lit, the Body of Christ is present. With our eyes focused toward the tabernacle, we go down on one knee to Christ the King. There have been and still are, kings and queens and often times we are attracted to modern day royalty. Modern royals tend to be figureheads rather than political heads of state. On the last Sunday in November we celebrate Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or simply put: Christ the King. It might seem odd to celebrate Christ as King; he is after all more than a figurehead. The first reference of Jesus as King comes from his crucifixion when Pilate ordered a sign to be hung atop Christ’s cross, “King of the Jews”.


In the Gospel Reading for November 25th, we hear the exchange between Pilate and Jesus. Of course we know how it will end, but in the middle of this dialog, we hear that infamous question, “What is truth?” Jesus is the truth and he is the way. Pilate mocked Jesus, but what he didn’t realize is the truth behind his provocation: Jesus Christ is King. It should bring us to our knees.