There are at least three temptations following the recent election:
The first temptation is misplaced trust. We can be tempted to put our hopes and dreams into the hands of the newly elected president. We can be tempted to put our trust into our democratic system to fix what we see as a bad result or implement what we see as good policy.
Second is despair. We can lose hope that God is still in control. We can struggle to understand where justice and mercy are to be found. We can become lost in the sea of argument, misunderstanding, accusation, and anxiety.
The third seeks to address both of the above while becoming a repetition of the same. The third temptation is the temptation not to struggle: Jesus is king and therefore everything will be ok! Because God is in control the president-elect need not be subject to prophetic challenge. Or, because God reigns our fears and anxieties are illegitimate or must be repressed. Or, because Jesus is risen we need not follow the way of the cross.
Instead our readings for The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe suggest a different understanding of the Kingship of Jesus.
Like King David led the people when Saul was their king, Jesus is the true shepherd and commander of the people of God. The wisdom of the elders affirms that this humble one who faces the principalities and powers with great faith in the God of Israel, is the one to be anointed and given the seat of judgment.
Only this king is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” And “in him were created all things in heaven and on earth.” He has “delivered us from the power of darkness” and we’ve been transferred into his kingdom where true justice, peace, and reconciliation in truth is possible. It is by “the blood of his cross” that peace is made.
The Gospel acclamation reminds us to hope in the one that “comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
The icon of this true hope here is the thief on the cross. Whereas everyone else seemed to have misplaced their hope in a false notion of a Savior, a Caesar, religious leaders or mob, this criminal places his trust in this one hanging beside him on the cross. Whereas many had already fled and abandoned Jesus and practically shut the door on this chapter, losing all hope, this one rebukes his neighbor and instead with his last breaths fights for the dignity of and hopes in the goodness of the one rejected at his side. Finally, in his reply, Jesus does not say everything will be fine or all is lost, but rather, I will remember you, “today you will be with me in Paradise.” We will be together. Solidarity.
That this is not misplaced trust, false hope, or a refusal of struggle is born out in the life of the Body of Christ, who in the days, weeks, months, and now millennia after the resurrection continues to trust in God and hope in the Gospel, even as it struggles to be faithful to the way of the cross. This struggle requires us to examine ourselves, to listen to others, and to seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. As disciples of the crucified and risen Lord, we are called to solidarity with all who are marginalized, abandoned, tossed aside, and scapegoated, called to mercy and justice for the least and the lost. We believe, help our unbelief.
Peace and All Good,
Director, Office of Life, Justice & Peace