Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christ the King

The Solemnity of Christ the King was last Sunday (Nov. 21, 2010). This was a reflection I wrote for our parish bulletin.

Pope Pius XI created the feast of Christ the King in 1925 to combat the rising tide of secularism in the world. He wanted to draw our attention to the reality of being citizens of the Kingdom of God and the authority of Jesus as King over our lives as Catholics and his authority over all creation. Looking around at the world today it’s obvious that we need this feast day more than ever as atheism becomes chic, moral relativism becomes the norm, and threats from terrorism, economic collapse and “super bugs” disturb our peace.

I think one of the saddest moments in the Old Testament is recorded in 1 Samuel 8 when the people of Israel demand a king from an aging Samuel saying, “Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else.” (1 Sm 8:5) The prophet goes to God disheartened by this news and God tells Samuel, “Go ahead and give them what they want. They’re not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. From the day I brought them out of Egypt until this very day they’ve been behaving like this, leaving me for other gods.” (1 Sm 8:7-8) God tells Samuel to warn them that making a man their king will result in the king taking their sons & daughters into servitude, confiscating their lands, and taxing them. They didn’t care; they just wanted to be like all the other nations around them. How often are we tempted by the world around us to compromise? How have we lost sight of what it means to be in the Kingdom of God?

The Gospels tell us that the central message of Jesus’ preaching was “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Greek word for kingdom is basiliea and it means the “rule, reign of a king; the king’s authority and power”. It is where the will of God is done. This is what we ask every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer and say “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are recognizing the authority of Jesus as King and asking him to make his Kingdom present to us. What does that mean? What does it look like? In heaven there is no fear, no sadness or suffering, no pain, sickness or death. We are living in the now and the not yet. Jesus established his Kingdom, but it’s not present in its fullness yet.

We can pray and expect miracles to happen because miracles are simply the presence of God’s Kingdom in the here and now. Making Jesus King of our lives is a daily decision to be open to allowing him to use us as he wants. Really living out the reality of serving Jesus as King means that we must seek his will before ours; knowing that when we do so, we do it with his promise to give us his strength, grace and power.

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