Headline: STILL WORSHIPPING THE KINGPosted on: 2016-11-17
The Liturgical Year ends
North South East or West, home is best. As Christians, our home is in heaven but we do get privileged glimpses of that home here on earth. Especially when we are in communion with God in faith we constantly savour sights of that heavenly home. Jesus even said it at the Transfiguration: “In truth I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming with his kingdom”. Some people also affirm that all the way to heaven is heaven. The letter to the Hebrews describes a glimpse of that abode of the king of Kings. “But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church of first-born sons enrolled as citizens of heaven. You have come to God himself, the Supreme Judge, and to the spirits of the upright who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to purifying blood which pleads more insistently than Abel’s. (Heb 12: 22-24). Jesus, the First born heir of that kingdom, is the one we joyfully celebrate this weekend as the Liturgical year ends in the Church all over the world as a new beginning emerges in the mystery of Advent.
It is the same God
As the story goes, two children of the same parents submitted a school essay on the topic “My Family Dog”. After assessing their work the teacher queried them on why they both wrote exactly the same essay. He asked the younger brother why he copied his brother’s essay. The child answered: “Well Sir, I had no choice, it is the same family dog”. God bless the genius of children! Well, all our social, political and economic circumstances may change, but we can say in the same language that Jesus is always the same King. Just imagine the splendor expressed in that great hymn: “All hail the power of Jesus’ name. Let angels prostrate-fall before the royal diadem. And crown him Lord of all”. Consequently, all the wonderful things ever said of the King whom we worship can still be effectively said of him today regardless of the situation around us. His glory knows no recession for he remains the same King all through the ages.
Worshipping the King
There are kings and there are kings! The “kings of this world” parade fearsome names like General, Emperor, President, Royalty, etc. They wield awesome power and intimidating credentials, often undeserved and unjustified. The Bible however declares that Jesus was given a name that is greater than any other name only after he had humbled himself, suffered and died. "God exalted him and gave him the name which outshines all names, so that at the name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2: 9-11). It is to highlight this fact that the Universal Church annually celebrates the Solemnity (an eminently special day) of Christ, King of the Universe on the last Sunday of every Christian Liturgical Year. It comes just before Advent which is the start of a "new spring" in the Christian calendar. The Bible acknowledges that human beings live on and need symbols to connect with the Divine. Moses lifted up the brazen serpent as a symbol of salvation in the desert (Num. 21: 4-9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of its lack of repentance. He surely was not weeping for its paved roads or greenery but for the people of Israel and their depraved ways (Lk. 19 41-44). Similar symbolism is what Catholics powerfully reenact on Christ the King Sunday, parading the streets with the Holy Eucharist while praying and singing about the kingship of Jesus Christ for the sanctification of the world.
In these trying times it is very hard to remain in Jesus’ camp. By today's standards, his kingship seems absurd and dysfunctional. Kings are expected to be powerful and strong, willing when necessary to wield their power and save their subjects. Today, more than ever, too many people, including Christians, desire a militant messiah, a powerful prophet to physically rescue the world. We cringe to read Jesus’ words before Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world”. We struggle to accept that when he was challenged on his way to Jerusalem and James and John offered to "call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes" (Lk. 9:54), Jesus rebuked those disciples. We feel disappointed that he would have power to suppress evil oppression and opposition to goodness and would not use it. But as it is often said, this is where the rubber hits the road. It is standing with Jesus even when he seems to be weak, and to accept his “weak”, other worldly kingship, in order to merit his promise. Those who do so are the manner of men and women who can reign in His kingdom. Jesus said: “So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Since this is the ultimate goal of all Christians we all must refuse to be daunted. The letter of Paul to Galatians says it best. “And let us never slacken in doing good, for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time” (Gal. 6:9). Because he lives all manner of things shall be well!
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