Is Christ My King?
Today the Church celebrates what is, in my opinion, one of the “manliest” Sundays of the Church year; the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This feast day presents an “in your face” question to anyone who is open and courageous enough to receive and honestly ponder it: “Who is it truly who is my King?” Most men and women reading this blogpost will acknowledge that yes, the “right” answer to this question is the answer which the Catholic Church proposes: “Jesus”; but there is present in this answer a tension which the Lord is speaking into in my own heart and life.
Who or what is it really that is my King?
The Holy Scriptures remind us that “where your treasure is, there also your heart will be”. The greatest treasures which any of us will acknowledge that we have in this life are our time, our finances, our relationships, and our very lives. And so I ask, with this in mind, who or what is it that actually is my king?
Who or what is it that decides what I do with my time? Who or what is it that dictates the schedule I take on with my job? What I do with my free time? How generous I am with giving away my time to the Lord and to others? Do I make time every day to pray and submit myself to the reign of Jesus Christ? If it is not the voice of Jesus who dictates what I do with my time, then He is most certainly NOT my king.
Who or what is it that governs what I do with my finances? Do I view my money as “mine”, or as His? Is it He that leads me to the job which I pursue, or is it the salary that I’m truly after? Does my checkbook reflect that I have been commanded by Christ to proclaim His Gospel (NOT the “gospel” of any other entity), to seek and build His Kingdom (NOT any other--certainly not my own!)? Does my spending reflect that I am storing up treasure in Heaven, relying totally in faith and trust on the Father and His providential care, or do I devote my finances to championing a different gospel, building a different kingdom, storing up treasures for my earthly (rather than eternal!) retirement? Do I financially seek the things of this world more than the things of Heaven? Does my financial situation reflect a spirit of comfort, control, and independence, or a spirit of trust, surrender, gratitude, and generosity to Christ and to others; acknowledging that my money is, truly, not my own? If it is not the voice of Jesus that directs what I do with my money, then He is most certainly NOT my king.
Who or what is it that is the king of my relationships? Who or what is it that decides who I will seek friendship with and who I will not “like” or worse, “love”? Do I love the unlovable, or do I tend towards relationships that are driven by what is comfortable, convenient, or popular? Do I surround myself with people who are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the building of His Kingdom through a serious devotion to prayer, virtuous living, and unselfish, sacrificial loving, or do I not? (We become like those we surround ourselves with, and it is a historical fact that a saint’s love for Jesus is attractive and contagious!) Do I love Jesus and others in a way that proclaims and asserts me--my thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, control, etc., or that proclaims and asserts Him? If it is not Jesus Christ who governs who I love and how I love, then He is NOT my king.
Finally, do I live my life predominantly seeking a happiness that is my own--actualized by me bowing to my own thoughts, emotions, and desires, or do I live my life from the conviction that it is in giving myself away to Christ and to His Gospel that I become truly and fully alive? Does my life reflect a love for the Cross of Christ; the throne and proclamation of my King about what it takes to enter into His Kingdom, or does my life reflect an unwillingness to freely allow myself to be a victim--crucified and destroyed--for the sake of a Love that is virtuous, committed, and merciful? Do I do everything possible to preserve and save my life, or to give it away in love to Jesus and others? If it is not Christ who is the Lord of how I live and love with my life, then He is most certainly NOT my king.
And so to those of us who desire to claim Christ as our King, Jesus, through the words of the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today, asks us: “Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?” Essentially, Jesus asks us just as He asked Pilate 2,000 years ago, do we proclaim Him to be our King because we know that that’s the “right answer”; do we say that Christ is our King because the Catholic Church says it, people we admire say it, it makes us sound holy and saintly, essentially because it’s the “right” thing” to say, or do we seriously live this as if it is what we are most certain of--a truth that is worth everything no matter the cost?
Christ the King ends the Gospel passage proclaimed at Mass today saying: “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Again, Christ reminds us that the entire reason He has come into the world is to announce the truth of His Kingship, to invite us into the Kingdom for which we have been destined for all of eternity, and to provide us everything that we need along the way to His Kingdom. What Jesus says is true, but it is entirely up to each of us to choose whether or not--or even how much we should devote--to responding. All who belong to the truth listen to Christ who is the one and only Way to true life, happiness, and peace. Will we know this truth and choose not to live it with great conviction, or will we recognize this truth and let it govern everything about how we live and how we love?
The saints for the past 2,000 years tell us that there are three great temptations against the kingship of Christ in our minds, our hearts and our lives; the world, the flesh, and the devil. The saints, the Sacred Scripture, and the teachings of the Church constantly remind us that we can NOT serve multiple masters; we can NOT have our feet, our minds, or our hearts in multiple kingdoms. Common sense tells us that true subjects of one kingdom do not flirt with paying homage and service to other kings. History reminds us that those who do so are not remembered as loyal subjects; faithful friends; true soldiers of the rightful king. Rather, history remembers them as cowards and traitors--just as Judas Iscariot was. So the question remains and is offered each day to us: who shall be my king? Who shall I live for? Whom shall I serve? Me? My money? The path to what is cheap, easy, and comfortable? Another imperfect person? What is popular and accepted by the world? My friends? Anything or anyone other than Christ?
May it be the life and the love of Jesus Christ which reigns in our own lives and dictates our commitment to real love, united in faithful love and friendship with the lives of the saints who precede us in history and enjoy the true splendor of the eternal kingdom that is to come. May we, through our actions, our authentic joy, and our commitment to true, unselfish love, proclaim to the world that has continuously ignored and rejected the gentle and merciful yoke of Christ:
“Long live Jesus Christ, Our King!”
Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, Make our hearts like unto Thine.