November 20, 2022
Sister Jan Ginzkey, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43
The readings from the book of Samuel and Luke’s Gospel tell us of Kings. However,
the concept and understanding of Kingship are quite different.
In the first reading the priests and leaders of Israel solicit David to be their King. The background that led to this meeting was a long and gruesome tale of battles and leaders of different factions being slain in battles or murdered in retribution. These events are retold in the chapters preceding today’s reading.
David had ruled as King of the Judahites for seven years in the city of Hebron. The other tribes were growing weaker as Saul’s sons and followers battled one another and David’s supporters. They were afraid that in the weakened state they would be unable to defend themselves against David. They were also afraid the Philistines would take advantage of their weakness and conquer them. This meeting was a way for survival, to ask David to be their King. They were seeking a strong leader, a proven hero in battle and an earthly king with a strong army of supporters.
David was well aware of the history of violence and intrigue that was behind their delegation. When they arrived in Hebron they proclaimed, “Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the Lord said to you, ’You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.’
Like other earthly kings and political leaders, David made some demands of these
dispirited emissaries. He set the conditions for his kingship that would enforce his sovereignty and insure their loyalty. He moved his government to the holy city of Jerusalem. This is the kind of King and Kingdom most people would recognize.
This Kingdom had geographic boundaries. It was limited to the people who lived in this area and who obeyed and gave allegiance to this King.
In the Gospel, Luke describes a vastly different type of King and Kingdom. Pope Francis said, “Jesus came into the world, not to dominate, but to serve. … he did this not through signs of power but rather through the power of signs. His kingship signified service to the point of being nailed on a cross, something truly beyond human parameters that regard a king as manifesting pride, fame, glory, and power over others.”
(Reflection November 21, 2021)
Father Earl Meyer described Jesus’ Kingdom in an earlier homily this way. This is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Who belongs in this kingdom? Meyer includes saints and angels, prophets, and martyrs, and mystics. But today’s gospel suggests the thieves belong. Perhaps liars, adulterers, hackers, and all kinds of sinners also belong.
This is a paradox and turns our image of a king and kingdom upside down. Yet to be a Christian we are asked to believe. Jesus showed the world his type of kingship when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people then and even today would expect a real king to ride a stallion or in a Cadillac convertible with ticker tape or confetti. A real King should wear exquisite clothes and have a royal entourage. Not a tunic and cloak dirty and stained from a long journey by foot along dusty roads. A real king would be announced with trumpets and fanfare, not a crowd of rowdy pilgrims waving palm branches.
Think of the people Jesus chose to be his disciples: fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot.
Who did Jesus touch and heal? They were lepers, the blind, the deaf, the prostitute. Jesus came to save the sinner. His parables tell of God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. He came to find the lost, the marginalized, the poor and despised by others and recognized them as beloved children of God.
This is Christ the King we celebrate today. Rather than a traditional kingdom, Jesus brings the sense of relationship and community which I refer to as His Kindom. Jesus’ kindom is not limited by geography, time, or space. His kindom is open to all people of all ages, cultures, sexual orientation, and all faith traditions. Jesus is the Cosmic Christ, the creator of all that exists in our universe, in and on our earth, of all that has life. I think of this as the Kindom of Christ. Everything that has ever existed, is in existence now and will be in existence in the future is encompassed by this kindom.
What assures us that we are members of this glorious kindom? Each of us must be aware and accept that we are sinners. Then we must act as Jesus in all of our relationships. I ask myself these questions. Are my relationships exclusive or inclusive?
Do I strive to increase social changes and irradicate systemic injustices? How do I engage in civil discourse with those with differing views or perspectives? Are my words and actions kind, open, compassionate, and inviting? Do I react or respond? Is it love that motivates me?
If I take the time to answer these questions I will know if I am a member of Christ’s Kindom. If my answers are not aligned with Jesus’ example, I know that I need to humbly ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness. I am free to make different choices.