Today we come to the last Sunday of the church year, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. An earthly king by definition is a male sovereign or monarch who by hereditary right is the chief authority over a country and people. We are probably more familiar with the Queen of England than any other monarch reigning in the world today. We presume today that the role of a monarch is largely symbolic though that is not always the case. Another presumption is that a monarch inherits a sizable fortune or receives considerable revenues for an expensive lifestyle. On the other hand we expect a certain level of pomp and circumstance accompanying royal events whether international travel, weddings or coronations.
In contrast to these images that can spark our imaginations as Lucy van Pelt used to muse in the comic strip Peanuts, “If I were queen, I would…” Instead, we have the image of Jesus dying on the cross between two thieves, the image of a servant king. The crowd expects him to exercise his divine or kingly powers and save himself. Jesus chooses not to save himself. Instead, one thief, often called the good thief, recognizes Jesus’ innocence and for that moment of insight simply says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Admittedly we are not sure what the thief specifically meant because he was not going to be part of an earthly kingdom of riches and comfort. Instead Jesus comments “…you will be with me in Paradise.” Did the thief steal into heaven, into the kingdom of God at the last moment or was there the seed of faith just waiting to bloom and come to life in him? We don’t know for sure, but he was on the right track.
In 1925, when practicing faith in service and love to our brothers and sisters came into question following WW I, the church according to Pope Pius XI, needed an effective weapon against the destructive forces of the age, any age that moves into a secular mode, shunning the idea of God. Pope Pius XI felt the proper antidote was recognizing the kingship of Christ. Jesus came to unite all people on earth, if not in this world then in the next as Ephesians 1:10 states ‘to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’
As much as people move forward in the world trying to reconcile, establish some kind of global equity, and some kind of universality, the opponents to unity and peace are equally fierce in maintaining chaos, subversion and unrest. Let us be part of the solutions towards peace and unity not part of the problems and conflicts.
Today we are reminded that no matter what, in the end, Christ will reign over all conquering sin and death and will establish as today’s preface says: “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
And it all starts by our acts of charity, generosity and selflessness to our brothers and sisters. Let us pray unceasingly for the glory of Christ to shine through us each day as we choose to serve Christ and one another.
And on Thanksgiving Day this week, let us say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings we receive and have received and pray for our country as we transition to a new president, a new executive branch staff, pray for unity in our country and among its people.
Thanksgiving Blessings, Father Larry