What Kind of King?

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, which closes out the liturgical year. For Christians, the centrality of Christ in our lives is simply and beautifully represented by our church calendar. Our story begins anew each year with the dawning of Advent and ends with the solemn recognition of Christ as King. If we allow ourselves to enter fully into this cycle, rather than rushing headlong into Christmas, we can open our spiritual lives to new hope and deeper growth for our relationship with Jesus. Advent is an especially appropriate time for determining new resolutions for our spiritual lives. Advent brings with it the excitement of God’s continual invitation to work harder to live as disciples, and steadfast forgiveness when we fail to do so.

This call is why it’s so important to end the year with this feast. The best way to begin a journey is to acknowledge where you are going. We are to be as Christ. Christ is the King. But what kind of king?

Throughout history and, sadly, even today, Christ’s Kingship is unlike any other. The concept of a servant king is all but alien to humanity. It so threatened the very understanding of what it meant to be a ruler in Jesus’ day, that he was condemned to death. The crucifixion was intended to utterly discredit Jesus. After all, a true king and Messiah would choose to save himself first, right? If Jesus could not come to His own rescue by using His power to His own benefit, did that power really exist at all? “If you are the King of the Jews,” the soldiers and the crowd jeer, “save yourself.”

If the destination of our journey is to work to continue Jesus’ mission, then we must understand what the mission is. God loved us so much that he sent His Only Son. In the face of sin and despair, God chose to send Life. He sent Light. He sent Love. Soon we’ll begin our new year in the embrace of hopeful anticipation of life, light, and love in the person of Jesus, whose mission we are sent forth to continue. In this feast, Jesus shows us that we can bring hope, even in the midst of despair. When death stared him in the face, Jesus reached out to forgive another. When we move toward Christ, we move toward life and away from death. The good thief had faith in his darkest hour, even as others doubted Christ, and the Lord responded with life.

As King, did Jesus have the power to come down from the cross and crush His enemies? Does He have the authority to save himself and leave us to the sin he has mournfully witnessed? He most certainly does. But our King chose not to do so, he cast aside His power in favor of mercy, in order that all may be saved. Even in the last few and worst moments of His suffering on the cross, Jesus saves the soul of the repentant thief.

The love of God is a living love, always acting in ways that show us how beloved we are to Him. This demands that we also must be actively loving persons, regardless of the response we receive and without regard for who we determine deserves to be loved. Jesus Christ is very clear about this. We are expected to go out of our way to reach out in love especially to those in need—the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the poor and naked, the sick, and those in prison. Nowhere does He say that it matters how they got sick or why they are in prison, why they are poor, or why they are without homes. He teaches and models that these are the people that we are to love most, because they are  most in need of the hope and light that we can bring to them. It’s not enough just to fulfil obligations, religious or otherwise. It won’t do to say, “I am a good enough Catholic.”

This is the King we are called to serve, and the way He wants to be served is for us to be filled with care and compassion for His children everywhere. We are called to care for those who are furthest from him and those who are not experiencing the abundance with which he has filled this world. We serve by loving those who are materially, socially, psychologically, morally, and spiritually poor.

Our liturgical worship is the font from which everything else we do in our lives should flow. Receiving the Eucharist at Mass should deepen our sense of the profound connection we have to each other and to all of God’s beloved. If we allow the grace God is offering to extend into our choices each day of the year, we too can be the bearers of the Life, Light, and Love of Jesus Christ, the King.

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

 

 

 

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