The kingdom of God, like any other sovereignty, must be governed by a worthy king: A leader with integrity who best exemplifies what the kingdom stands for; and a model ruler who will direct the people to what they have committed to leave as a legacy to history.
If this kingdom promises to be a social order of justice and peace, founded on the values of charity and service, then its king must be a person who not only characterizes this order, but is taking the initiative and driving it towards the fulfillment of its purposes.
In today’s celebration, the Feast of Christ the King, we give due homage to the Christ of our faith, who is in every aspect the Yeshua of history, the indomitable yet compassionate Jewish prophet who in his place and time, saw the disconcerting inconsistencies between the actual application of his professed religion to society, and the redeeming tenets he believes it is teaching.
He distinctly noted the poverty in spirit of those who have been trapped in this inharmonious social order, by those others who hypocritically preached from the pulpit of power; and concluded that such discordant conditions are not what God intended his creation to be, thereby accepting with conviction and actively prophesying about the imminence of its downfall.
He deeply knew that the only true way towards a lasting social tranquility lies in the mutual accountability we must have for each other. And so, obedient to what he theologically resolved to be the will of our Abba, he boldly undertook the task of challenging the paradox of the injustices in which he lived, and eventually paid for it with his life.
This itinerant rabbi who endeared himself to the forsaken masses of a conquered nation because he stood for them and vigorously fought against the oppression of firmly-established hegemonies, was so well revered that in his memory, many communities of his disciples were formed and shaped through the decades after his death.
Jesus has been resurrected in the body of people who were his faithful followers, who not only saw in him the divinity of their God, but also the kingship of the heavenly kingdom he envisioned for all.
How do we describe this kingship? The Scriptures are telling us about a magnanimous kingship founded on sincere service: The king must possess a merciful pastor’s heart, a shepherd who truly cares that no one is left behind, and that everyone is taken care of.
But the king must also have an uncompromising judge’s mind, a shepherd who will destroy those who are unjust, those who incite chaos, those who leave others behind. He will stand as both the advocate for those who will do what he does, and the executioner of those who will ignore or rebel against what he does.
The key therefore to understanding our duties towards this king, is also founded on sincere service: We are not meant to serve his needs, wishes or demands, but to minister to those who are less fortunate or are much disadvantaged.
We must not make empty promises to do what we learned from him, but to simply do what he did as an example, whether or not we really recognized him in our actions nor comprehended what he taught.
And for as long as we persevere in the simplicity of this selfless service for others, we are definitely assured it is equivalent to a loving service for our loving God.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
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