Tuesday, November 25, 2008

King Me!

On Sunday, the Church celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. Now at first glance you might be thinking.... Wow, what an outdated concept! How completely irrelevant to my life and to talk at the water cooler on Monday. "Hey Bob, what you'd do this weekend?" "We celebrated the Feast of Christ the King." "The King? Huh... Sounds kinda medieval, Bob. When are you Catholics gonna wake up and smell the 21st century?" Then you hang your head and slink back to your little patch of serfdom behind some flimsy beige partition and think, "yeah, that does sound totally medieval." I mean come on.... this is America! We're a democracy! We don't want some archaic flashback to a time of fairy tales, princesses, dragons, and kings! Right? I mean WE the People! After all, we know what's best! Look around: isn't it working out perfectly in this new City of Man, this Brave New World? Finally, there's peace and justice for all! In the immortal words of Laverne and Shirley, "Give us any chance, we'll take it. Give us any rule, we'll break it. We're gonna make our dreams come true. Doin' it our way." Yeah, right. Truth is, the naive dreams of "our way" have hit the cold, hard highway and turned into a nightmare.... now we're singing "Welcome to the Jungle." Why can't we get it right? Because we're incapable of fixing ourselves. There's a disorientation within each of us that can only be reoriented by the Maker of our hearts. And doesn't that make sense? We didn't create ourselves, so how can we complete ourselves? We don't have a clue. We're unruly. We need a Ruler. But instead of humbly admitting this truth, we grab the "reigns" from the rightful King and we don't even know how to steer this carriage. It's as if Cinderella decided to make a hard left and skip out on the Royal Ball, settling instead for a "happy meal" at McDonald's. But this King has a much better meal prepared for us! I suppose the trap for "we the people" is a fear that the King will become a Tyrant (wasn't this the twisted lie of the Serpent right from the beginning of our story, in the Garden of Eden?) Granted, earthly manifestations of kings have clearly transformed into just that over the millenia. It's quite logical to want to rebel when your monarch becomes a monster. But here's the thing: Jesus isn't a monster. Jesus isn't a king who will sit on a golden throne waving an iron mace. Jesus came as a poor man wearing His Heart on His sleeve. Jesus is not a King who will crush and kill your freedom. He comes to be crushed and killed Himself, to give us all true freedom! When Matthew closes off his gospel, he points us to the Face of the True King, and it is a Face that we never expected. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me." My King is a hungry, thirsty, broken man. My King is a King of Pain. He directs my eyes into the shadows and into the wounded places of the human condition so that I can learn compassion and love. He is not faraway in a polished palace but deep in the slums, among the "rabble." At the end of the day, governors govern, administrators administrate, and presidents preside, but always seemingly from a distance. I need a King close at hand to rule over me, to set my heart right again. A Ruler by which to measure my love. And I find it all in Christ my King, Who is not afraid to walk among the least of my brothers. In fact that is what He has become for me. For it is who I am... "The guest of our soul knows our misery; He comes to find an empty tent within us - that is all He asks." - St. Therese of Lisieux
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