Feast of Christ the King
“Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
That sounds good, doesn’t it? Today. WE like things that happen today. We’re NOW people. Today is good. …but for Paradise? That sounds like it should be long way off…a looong way off. (and I hope none of you are thinking…”if I ever get there”) You will. Jesus promised. And he’s good for his promises. He gave his life to make his promise good.
Just as he did for the thief crucified at his side, Jesus, our King, forgives and bids us come into his kingdom. Into the eternal life he won for us. For most of us, the cross is where we least expect a king to be. Yet this is where we find Jesus. The cross is where we ourselves least want to be. Yet this is how God’s kingdom is established and where our discipleship begins: allowing ourselves to be crucified on the cross of self-giving. Haven’t we heard so many times: “Take up your cross and come follow me.”
Some people in Jesus’ day were looking for a king like David, who would reassert Israel’s independence, rid the land of the Romans, and make wise decisions for the people. Even though David did all this with twelve scrappy tribes, Jesus, with his twelve ordinary fishermen, had a completely different vision of kingdom.
Jesus urged the leaders among his followers to be the servant of all, and he modeled this for them repeatedly, as he took up his itinerant mission with people at the lowest rungs of society.
- He demonstrated his kingship not by saving himself, but by healing and saving others.
- He exercised his might through forgiveness and compassion.
- He demonstrated his kingship not by power and wealth, but by loving reassurance that Paradise awaits faithful disciples.
This solemnity remembers a King whose Kingdom has come. We are living in his kingdom now. This means that each day we are called to live in a self-giving way because only through goodness expressed in reaching out to others is God’s reign at hand. Living in the reign of God means living the daily dying the cross demands. Just as the cross was the means to Jesus’ exultation, so is the cross our way into Paradise.
But wait…remember that loooong way off we hope eternal life is.? I’m yours, take me Lord, but not today????
It’s the “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” that is our promised kingdom. When we notice the lost and lonely, when we offer compassion and forgiveness to those who hurt us, when we are tender, and loving, the Kingdom of God is being created right in our midst.
As followers of Christ the King, we find ourselves challenged to form communities in which the only royal figure is Jesus, the only kingdom is God’s, and the power of forgiveness reigns supreme.
In so doing, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Ours.
Eileen Richards is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.