Christ the King, Kingstanding – Window done in 2011 by Aiden McRae Thompson can be seen in Roman Catholic church of Christ the King, in the north Birmingham suburb of Kingstanding.
This Sunday we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. A celebration in the church began in 1925 by Pope Pius XI to:
- That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).
- That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).
- That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33)
Pius believed that “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”
In our lectionary gospel text from Luke, the crowd is mocking Jesus – saying “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” Then as the crowd continues to mock, one of the men being crucified next to Jesus asks – “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”
Throughout the gospels, we continue to see the disciples and the crowd wanting Jesus to rise above the oppressive Roman government and fulfill the promises of a messiah. Jesus however, wasn’t the kind of King they were looking for.
As Jesus talks about the kingdom of God, he describes many things. The Kingdom of God is like a land owner who shows mercy, the kingdom of God is like a great pearl, the kingdom of God is like a shepherd who goes after even one lost sheep. Jesus proclaims from the beginning of his ministry, echoing the words from Isaiah – sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free.
Jesus lived and died as a very different kind of King – and then was resurrected! Our Christian hope is not in an earthly ruler, but in our God who came to earth, showed us how to live and love, died, and rose again conquering death.
The election cycle of 2016 is coming to a close. It was a brutal one, and a historic election in many ways. The country is incredibly divided with more fear of the other party than ever recorded in polls before. Many are wondering if they have a future in the country, or if they will lose rights, while others are excited and hopeful that the new administration will bring change and disrupt politics as usual.
We do not live in the Kingdom of God yet – there is much work to do until we get there. Despite your politics, I believe we can come together as Christians around the mandates of Christ – to love our enemies, care for the poor, feed the hungry, visit the sick, and free the captives. Let us never tire of doing the work God has equipped and called us to.
May we not seek unity to go backwards – let us seek reconciliation – acknowledging the very real pain in our lives, seeking together the kingdom of God.