Friday Focus: Thy Kingdom Come
Then Pilate entered the
headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of
the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did
others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you
done?" Jesus answered, "My
kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my
followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But
as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are
a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that 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." John 18:33-37
As Jerry Seinfeld would say when things are
outrageously at odds with expectations: It’s Bizarro World! What kind of a king
is born in a stable? What kind of a king wanders around telling stories all day?
What kind of king seeks out the low-lifes and the losers and heaps scorn on the
big-shots? He doesn’t have a castle, crown jewels or even a coach. What kind of
a king is that? Our King, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. There never was and
never will be another king like him.
As we march further and further into the 21st
Century, monarchy seems more and more a quaint anachronism…a boost for the
British tourist trade, fodder for the tabloids, some spicy plots for the PBS soap
operas, all strictly the stuff of fairy-tales. We’re comfortable with the Good
Shepherd metaphor -- a loving, protective, gentle Jesus -- but what’s all this
king stuff about?
Jesus always spoke in terms the people understood …
the mustard seed, the lost sheep, the prodigal son. The concept of kingdoms and
kingship was equally familiar. It clearly described relationships, order,
authority and responsibility. It did then. It does now. But will God be seated
on a throne, have robes and a long white beard? I have my doubts, but never doubt
that God has the will and the power to make all things work together for the
good. He is the creator and ruler of the universe. And that counts for a whole lot
more than a collection of cliche stage props.
As we’ve seen in earlier gospel accounts, Jesus was
a terrible disappointment to those who wanted the Messiah to slaughter their
enemies and dominate their neighbors. The peace of Christ is not the product of
conquest. It is a labor of love. The kingdom Christ preached has no frontiers,
no army, no navy. But as we’ve seen, it does have a constitution: Love God with
your whole heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Over 2000 years, hundreds of powerful dynasties have
had their day and faded. Only the Kingdom of God endures as fresh and as new,
as vibrant and joyful as the day it was first proclaimed by Christ. This Sunday
we come to the end of our church year. It is fitting that we begin each year in
anticipation of Jesus’ birth. And we finish each year celebrating Christ in
In the perfect prayer composed for us by Jesus, we
pray: Thy kingdom come. But we are
not meant to be just passive supplicants seeking the kingdom only in prayer. We
are also meant to build the kingdom. Not
everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord!, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he
who does the will of my Father. (Mat. 7:21) How do we make the kingdom
come? How do we build it?
Through divine grace the foundations of the kingdom
have been sunk solidly into our hearts. Christ is faithfully waiting to help us
build on that foundation. This side of heaven, that is where and how his
kingdom will come. But first we must overthrow our own kingdom of pride. We
must depose the princes of sin who usurp his place in our hearts. If in all
things we seek first the kingdom of God, we
have been promised that his kingdom surely will come. If we honestly and constantly
commit to letting Christ reign in our hearts, in the words of St. Josemaria
Escriva: “My every heartbeat and breath, my most ordinary word, my most basic
feeling can be transformed into a hosanna to Christ, my
Antidote for Black Friday?
This year at about mid-day on Thanksgiving, many folks who work in retail will rise from the table and get dressed for work ... because 'Black Friday' has begun to fall in late afternoon on Thanksgiving Thursday. I'm fairly certain it's not essentially the bargains that we are grateful for ... something about God, Higher Power, Life perhaps?
Fran Szpylczyn, wonderful Roman Catholic blogger of There Will Be Bread
has written down a couple of thoughts that bear pondering. Use this link for her recent piece: http://blog.timesunion.com/bread/forget-shopping-think-about-hope/2458/
Thanks, FB friend Fran!
Pondering the THANKS of Thanksgiving
Post Sandy, post financial collapse, post employment we may be 'stuck' this year on Thanksgiving - the national day set aside for gratitude and counting our blessings. Some of us are hard pressed to find wholeness or holiness in the rubble of our lives.
Here is a post written by Dan Lacich, Senior Pastor of Northland Church, Orlando, Florida. Written in 2008, you won't find any of the current references listed above in his essay, but the essence of how to find the 'thanks' in all things comes through loud and clear.
Thank you, Pastor Lacich for this meditation and your blog, Provocative Christian Living
Read this essay here: http://provocativechristian.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/provocative-bible-verses-give-thanks-in-all-things/
Anne Lamott on Prayer
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I heard this interview on my local public radio station and thought you might enjoy it: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/19/164814269/anne-lamott-distills-prayer-into-help-thanks-wow