John Embry: Christ the King Sunday
Christ the King Sunday (today) marks the end of the liturgical year for Christians who follow a traditional church calendar. This was the Gospel reading for the day:
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."
(Luke 23: 35-43)
Next week the season of Advent will begin. It is a time to reflect on the first coming of Jesus in history, a time to experience the Jesus that is with us now, and a time for us to ponder His second coming. But, before we get to fast-forward too quickly, it is important to think about the Sunday-prior.
Christ the King Sunday appeals to me in a particular way. While all of us as believers should absolutely acknowledge Christ as the King of our universe every day, too often we fail to do so. We tend to let our lives get cluttered with all the things we think we have to do, while neglecting many of the things that in reality actually fit into that category. When we face adversity, struggle with our faith, and lose hope, as we all do at times, we are quick to say “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” - in anticipation of the day when we will draw our last breath. How much better would it be if we could find live in this “kingdom” on a daily basis? Christ the King Sunday reminds me of the necessity of doing so. It centers me and helps me to once again strip away all of the artificial disruptions of life and to focus instead on that which is most important - faith in God and belief in Christ and his church.
In the reading above, all of us fill the role of the criminal pretty well. We are disobedient, prideful, and have fallen short in countless ways. Idols we have built, not of pagen gods but of ancient vices that we readily embrace. Golden calves aren’t our downfall in 2019; the siren call of radical secularism, the lure of moral relativism, the naivete of agnosticism, and the fallacy of an atheistic peace are the real dangers of the modern world. We are guilty for sure. But, in the Kingdom of Christ, nobody is beyond redemption if they have a contrite heart and a repentant soul. Why is that the case? It is because ultimately we live not in a republic, under a democratice form of government, but rather we live under a king. Christ is our king and it is in His kingdom that we live and His reign is eternal. Scripture teaches us that this world is not our home. Our home is in the Kingdom of Christ and after our time on this earth is over, as Christians we welcome the words of Jesus when he said, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
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