Weekend Reflections for 11/18/16
On Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. The Gospel shows Jesus on the cross, encouraging Dismas, the good thief: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112016.cfm
On this feast, why don't we hear about His triumph and victory instead of His suffering and death? This is our King? His actions tell us, "If you choose me as your king, I will die a humiliating death for you." This is his platform? How many votes would he get with a message like that? In fact, many of Jesus' sayings sound rather curious: "Take up your cross and follow me;" "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be killed;" "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you because of me."
In the Roman Empire, the classic promise from leadership was "bread and circus." Caesar and his associates will keep you fed and entertained. What more could you want? Safety and prosperity: this is what we all desire, right? Life is more than bread and circus. And we see the ugly underbelly of Ceasar's empire in the crucifixion: Jesus was killed as an enemy of the state. His Kingship threatened Caesar's kingship. The cross was meant as a cruel lesson-- this is what happens to the enemies of the empire.
Our King, Jesus, is with us in our suffering. He walks with us when we carry our crosses. He doesn't promise us a perfect, pain-free life. Rather, Jesus shows us that He knows what it is like to be tired, hurt and misunderstood. He walked this earth because He loved us. He carried His cross and died to save us. He doesn't promise to remove all suffering but to redeem us by entering into our lives-- precisely in our embarrassment and sorrow. He preaches words of hope to us from His cross: "Take up your cross and follow me...and you will be with me in paradise." His title is Emmanuel, which means, 'God with us.'
Jesus Christ is my King and He is with me. He is a gentle king who wants to reign in our hearts. He does not so much conquer us as 'win us over' to His glorious Kingship. This is our King: He was born in a manger, died on a cross, and rose from the tomb to eternal life. He wants to be with me now and in eternal paradise. As Christians, our deepest allegiance is to Him. We are true citizens of His Kingdom, both on earth and in heaven. Christians did not so much defeat the Roman Empire, as transform it from within. Their faithful witness, in the midst of Caesar's crosses and lions, won the hearts of a nation for Him. These tiny mustard seeds flourished into a Christian garden that spread around the world.W
We praise You, Christ our King! We welcome you and join your joyful band! O Come, O Come Emmanuel! Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven!
Fr Joe Laramie, SJ