Blog # 415 King of Love
The purpose and experience of celebrating feasts in the life of the Church is very much like the purpose and experience of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions in the lives of those we appreciate and love. Because of such meaningful relationships we have with certain persons, because of their goodness generosity and kindness to us in one way or another, because we admire and appreciate them for their virtue character good example and source of support and inspiration they have been for us, and for what they have accomplished in their lives, we respond in joyful praise and feel privileged to be part of a celebration in their honor.
The same emotion and joy we bring to a birthday or anniversary celebration should be ours on the occasion of the celebration of Saints in the calendar of the Church. Especially should this be on the occasion of feasts celebrating special features of the life of Jesus. The feast of Christ the King is such an occasion. I did not think I did it justice last Sunday so I will give it another try today in this blog. It is the climax of the Church's Liturgical Year.
Jesus had come among us seemingly as a very ordinary infant. We watched him grow and walk among us as a man, prayerful kind and compassionate to those in need and finally crucified for claiming to be God's Son, one with God, divine. He invited us to see in His death not a tragedy or failure but an exchange of love between Himself and His Father. He was not being killed at all! Rather He was "laying down His life", giving it away, in loving obedience to His Father's plan, as an effect and sign of the Father's love for us all.
We might have thought, and we heard some say sin was the cause of His death, but this was not so. Sin would not be given that power or privilege. In spite of its power to cause our ruin, sin did not have the power to kill God's beloved Son Jesus. This was made clear to us when on several occasions sin, in the hatred and willful misunderstanding of the people, they would have stoned Jesus or thrown Him over a cliff to His death, Jesus simply walked away unharmed. ( Luke. 4: 29-30; Jn. 8: 59; Jn. 10: 31, 39). His 'hour' had not yet come. Jesus did not say "Watch me suffer", but "No greater love than this has anyone, than to lay down one's life for a friend."
We began to see more closely or perhaps for the first time the suffering and death of Jesus not as an effect of sin, but rather as God's response to sin. It was bloody and painful, yes. It was altogether tragic as the rejection of the most perfect Presence of God on earth in the humanity of Jesus. In the death of Jesus God most emphatically declared for all time the absolute evil of sin. This was God's Beloved Son, God Himself, paying the price for our sins, laying down His life, giving all that He had in total love! This was to give us some idea of the enormous evil of sin as a contradiction of the Father's wisdom and a rejection of His love. It cost Jesus His life to tell us how evil and tragic sin is.
But at the same time, and in the very same act of dying, Jesus was telling us God's love was worth this much to Him, and God's love for us was this great. God was not punishing Jesus on the Cross. Rather He was giving Jesus the opportunity of placing love where love had been denied. It was what Jesus referred to as His "glory". (Jn. 17: 1). He did not single out His preaching or prayers, His wisdom and goodness, His kindness and humility, but His death as His glory. The divine love of Jesus on Calvary is the greatest love that ever touched the earth. "No greater love than this has anyone than to lay down one's life". The greatest expression of the greatest love on earth was given to the world on Calvary. In that act of dying we see Jesus as the King of Love.
Each occasion when we offer the sacrifice of the Mass we recall and experience once again in faith the obedient loving sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. All that Jesus said and did was related to this, His greatest act of love. The Annunciation is here, and Christmas too. You cannot give what you do not have. In Jesus God would have a human body like our own. On the Cross and in the Mass it is 'given'. Easter is here too, for the eternal glory of the Resurrection is the Father's response to the love of Jesus on the Cross.
As all that Jesus said and did is not to be considered apart from Calvary, so all that we as Christians do and say and all that is said and done to us is not to be considered apart from Jesus and His love in us. Along with pain comes courage and trust in Him. Along with the power to wage war, experience impatience fear wrath or dishonesty comes, in Him, the invitation and power to live in peace as individuals and as nations, the power to create in our lives patience love generosity and prayer.
But it does not always come out this way. Our freedom sometimes objects. When Pilate stood before the people and asked " Shall I crucify your king?" they did not hear him asking whether he should give God the opportunity of loving us as Jesus did, but only whether Jesus was to be crucified and forgotten. "We have no king but Caesar!"
There are many possible 'Caesars', rival kings to Jesus. Passions weakness fear feelings fatigue culture all claim power, all seek to rule. "Come". "Go". "Look like this!" Speak like this!" "Act like this!" They are 'Caesars'. At any moment we might stand before Jesus and say with the people in Pilate's court "You are not our king. We have no king but pleasure, sex, violence, money, prestige, secular humanism!"
In Pilate's court Jesus was led away to be crucified and forgotten. Now, almost two thousand years later, He is our KING OF LOVE, and all who condemned Him are gone.
PRAYER TO CHRIST THE KING
O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge You as the Universal King. All that has been created has been created for You. Exercise over me all the rights that You have.
I renew my Baptismal promises, renouncing sin, and I promise to live as a good Christian. Especially do I pledge myself to bring about the triumph of the rights of God and of Your Church.
Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer You my poor actions to obtain that all hearts my recognize Your consecrated kingship and thus the kingdom of Your peace my be extablished throughout the world, in the minds and hearts of all seven billion of us. Amen!