Sunday, November 18, 2012

Electing a Kingdom

Amid gloomy predictions about the economy and the precarious state of our religious liberty, after weeks of Gospel readings on the End  Times, along with the autumnal passing from warmth and verdure to bare branches and crumbled brown leaves, it is easy to feel a little despondent these days.

           Anyone already concerned about our society might even wonder if a calamity of some sort is no longer avoidable but almost certain now. What, if anything can be done, to protect our country—or if that’s too much to ask—to protect one’s own family and loved ones? What will the world be like when our children and grandchildren are grown?
           Next Sunday’s feast reminds us that we are not abandoned but have reason to hope. That day is the Feast of Christ the King. Christ has won the victory already; we know how it all will end. The only thing left to be determined is who will elect to be on his winning team. Put that way, it seems an obvious choice, but in this world, where the most important things are invisible, choosing the winning team can be tricky: it looks so much like the losing team.
           Kingship isn’t a popular concept in America; we tend to view a king as a potential or eventual tyrant. But the King of the Universe is altogether different. Though He certainly has the right to demand our obedience and allegiance—being our Creator and Redeemer—He prefers His subjects to choose Him, to elect Him their King. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone.
           The Chief Rebel, on the other hand, beguiles us into thinking that, like him, we can be servants to no one—be our own kings. But being also the Father of Lies, he is deceiving us on this point. If we voluntarily leave the service and protection of our Lord, if we reject His Kingdom, the Prince of this world will happily enslave us in his.
           The best-kept secret is that God’s Kingdom is not only future and eternal, but can be had even now. “The Kingdom is at hand” for anyone who wants it. Anyone can have a corner of the Kingdom here and now. All one has to do is to make Christ the King of one’s heart. 
           Making Him King means obeying Him and loving Him with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.  To do this is a process—a lifelong process—that requires His assistance and our continual effort and getting up again and again and going on after falling.
           Making Him King of your heart leads to making Him King of your home.  But even that is not enough, for our King yearns to bring all people into His realm. We—His feet and hands and voice on this earth—must help in this effort.
           How do we do this? How do we reach people with the truth, persuade them to elect Christ as their King? We must attract them by being His true ambassadors.  We must bring a corner of the Kingdom wherever we go.
           One recurring joke in our family is my husband’s penchant for responding, “Love,” to any question, since “Love is the answer.” While it is not really the answer to such questions as, “Where is the concert?”  or “What time is dinner?” love is truly part of the answer to every eternal question.
           The way we attract people to the Kingdom, the way we give witness to our King, is to imitate Him, to let Him live within us, to love as He loves.
           If we keep asking for His help, keep receiving His gifts of grace in the sacraments, keep working on becoming like Him, we will radiate peace, will maintain a deep abiding joy in the midst of difficulty, will demonstrate His Love. And that will draw people, intrigue people, for everyone wants true joy.
           Our only hope for this world is the same as our hope for the next. Becoming holy is a win-win proposition, for now … and for ever.
           Christ our King, Your Kingdom come!