As we end another liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Embracing this feast means more than envisioning thrones, crowns and scepters. The stable foundation of the kingship of Jesus rests on the authority with which He lived and taught. All power and glory came through Jesus as He became flesh and dwelt among us. He taught us how to live and how to exercise true power on this earth as it is in heaven.
Surrounding this feast is God’s dream that all shall be one under Christ. With its roots in the tribes who make themselves available to King David, we come as the sons and daughters of God to pledge our allegiance once again to the king of heaven and earth. So much of that can be empty words unless we begin to mold our behavior after the pattern of Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t settle for anything less. Jesus’ authority comes from telling the truth, washing the feet of others and His willingness to be nailed to the cross for the sake of all people. Unless that becomes the shape of our lives, we look like hypocrites to others.
Many of us have theenergy to tell other people the truth. We think we know how they should be living and what’s wrong with their lives, yet we don’t spend as much time purifying ourselves and making sure we’re living in the pattern of Jesus. At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of those who denied and betrayed Him. He didn’t make any exceptions or enforce a purity code. He washed all feet and cautioned His disciples that they must do the same. How are you doing lately with washing the feet of those who deny and betray you?
Do others know that you would be nailed to a cross for them? That is an incredibly high standard, but that’s what Jesus did. He showed us how it’s done and has given us the mission to live that in the world today. Every day, we meet people who vehemently disagree with us or live lives that seem totally opposite to what we would call virtuous living. Do they know that we would die for them?
The Gospel reading for this feast reminds us of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. One of those hanging with Jesus asks to be remembered in the coming kingdom of God. Most of us would call that a fear of death conversion. Why do we wait until we experience a huge loss or we’re about to die before we realize that we need to commit everything we have to Jesus?
Now is the perfect time to admit the ways we have been calling ourselves — but not behaving as — Christians. Now is the time to admit our prejudices, to end destructive conversations and to stand up for the truth of what is represented in Jesus Christ. Can we call ourselves to better behavior as families and Church communities, especially toward those who live on the margins of our society?
True and lasting power, the power of Christ the King, flows from love and service toward anyone we meet, especially our enemies. How will you celebrate the feast of Christ the King? What power will be evidenced in the way that you live?
Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.