During Election Day in the earlier part of the month, the following post passed through much of social network:
God who is a king? What does that even mean for us who belong to a Democratic Society in America? Personally, my only concept of kingship or royalty was witnessing the Marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April 20011 at Westminster Abbey. The Prince and her Royal Highness grabbed the world stage’s attention as they showcased splendid regalia, trumpets and orchestras with pomp and circumstance, and premier culture at its finest. For me, this was a glimpse of what is left of any popular concept that sentimentally stimulates the image of the love shared between the princes and princesses of Walt Disney or any sense of royalty and kingship in the twenty-first century. A kingship in where power is determined by how much you own and acquire authority over the largest armies, and the surplus of wealth.
Perhaps I may be in Pilate’s shoes today as Gospel gives the classical example of tragic miscommunication. Upon questioning Jesus of his kingship, our Lord told Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world. Pilate understood kingship as having power over people and not caring for their well-being, conquering lands, and building the finest temples to their pagan gods.
This is far from the program of Jesus. All throughout this past year, we have heard of the kingdom of God being about relationship. God becomes one like us to share in relationship, to restore us to his friendship, and call us out of our marginalization, and to recognize that the person right in front of us is not only our neighbor, but our brothers and sisters in Jesus. The Kingdom of our Lord begins when we live for each other, when we serve each other with mutual self-giving, when we defend each other for our basic needs, when we recognize that the person right in front of us is good and that we have the capacity to live in enduring peace. His kingdom is coming, but the paradox is that his kingdom is already happening in our midst. As the kingdom becomes a reality, where is it headed? Let me offer you the following thought.
Today marks the end of the Church year, which is also a glimpse into the end times. The end times are spoken of with great mystery and mystique especially as the Myan calendar is slated to conclude on Friday, December 21 with all its prophecies brought to fulfillment and the tragedies envisioned in the popular movie 2012 will occur. Such thoughts provoke the question, “Are we afraid of the end of the world that will bring about wrath of a God who claims to be king?”
After all, what is the end of the world? A person who dies from a long fight with cancer, a person who puts up with abuse at home, a teenager who struggles with self-esteem after a failed relationship, or a person who dies from a terrible car accident – all these people experience their own ‘end of the world’. I may not have the answer to the popular talk of the end times, but consider the following:
If we dare to be people reaching out to the marginalized, if we dare to be a people caught up with assisting the poor and fighting for our neighbor’s basic needs, if we dare to be people who tirelessly work to bring up our children with Gospel values and helping them to love Jesus, and if we dare to be people who are consoling those lonely or in prison, we have no need to fear the end times because God will find us not standing still, he will finding us waiting in joyful hope of the coming of our savior, he will find us making his kingdom come on earth as it is heaven.
The conflicted Pilate had Jesus crucified with the political statement that hung on his cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.” His kingship is something more than political. His kingship is about our relationship with each other that looks towards the end of time. Many will chatter about the end time in the days to come, yet as Catholics we live in the paradox that, yes, he will come again to judge the living and the dead, but wait –he’s never left us. He is still here – in the Word proclaimed and hidden under the disguise of bread and wine.
As we approach this place where his kingship is celebrated, where the kingdom begins and is lived out beyond these walls, perhaps we can look to him whose arms are stretched out embracing all of creation and say to that man, that Lamb, that brother of ours, “Nail my heart to the cross, to remain there, to love you, my King.”