Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego

Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother. Are you not under my shadow and protection.

Jesus, a King?

In the Gospels, whenever we hear the words of Jesus, or read about his actions, we don’t automatically give him the title king. Yet he was called King of the Jews, first by the magi who, upon arriving in Jerusalem, asked, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? (Matt 2:2).

The title so bothered King Herod that he had all boys two years and less killed. So this title posed a threat to Jesus from his birth.

It ultimately nailed Him to the cross when he faced Pontius Pilate during his Passion.

The Jews used the title to have him condemned, saying to Pilate, who found nothing about him to crucify him, “If you release him, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” (Jn 19: 12).

Not wishing to crucify Jesus, Pilate faced the crowd, asking, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king except Cesar” (Jn 19: 15).

Jesus never denied that he was King of the Jews when Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied, “My kingship is not of this world…”

Pilate probed further, “‘So, then you are a king?’ Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this, I was born and, for this, I have come into the world. I have come to bear witness to the truth and everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (Jn 18:33-37)

Can’t Relate To Kings

We’re quite removed from the experience of kings. Movies, novels and history lessons evoke strong images of kings as tyrants in rare cases, powerful, distant, and bent on protecting their authority and conquering other kingdoms.

Yet many of us today are just as preoccupied, as the Israelites were, with earthly rulers, even those we elect, fretting and complaining about everything they do and fail to do.

Today’s Solemnity helps us steer away from this preoccupation.

When we fix our gaze on Christ the King He will help us carry the cross of rulers opposed to Truth. He will carry it with us and in us. When he asked us to, “Come follow me”, it meant all the way to the cross, our way to Resurrection and eternal life.

Of all the kings who sat upon the throne of Israel, the greatest was David. Jesus of Nazareth was of the line of King David.

At the Annunciation, Mary heard these beautiful words: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.”

What is this Kingdom?

We see it in Jesus. Every particle of the Gospel reveals the kingdom of Christ the King. Today’s Gospel speaks of when the Son of Man comes in his glory, “… and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne…”

This royal king will judge the nations according to love, according to how we treated him in the “distressing disguise’ as St Teresa of Calcutta often said about the poor.

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.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?’ Then the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:31)

Mother Teresa called it living the Gospel “on five fingers”: you-did-it-to-me.

The distressing disguise is our neighbour, our co-worker who is irritating just by walking into the room. Often it’s the one in our family: brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter who lives in radical opposition to belief in Christ. It may be the one that begs with an empty Tim Hortons cup at the stoplight.

I’ve seen many, many people who have been caught by this wide net Jesus casts to gather countless into His kingdom. They’re probably not aware of it. You may not have been aware of when you were the one in whom someone has cared for Jesus.

I watch them helping a stranger. I hear them speaking an encouraging word. I see them doing all the small acts of love to Christ the King hidden in them. Then in my heart, I hear Jesus say to me, not with words, but strong and clear inside:

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:40)

This is his kingdom on earth. When we open our hearts to this King, He will enter, to cast the fear of others to the sea, giving us a heart like his.

Humbly bowing to the eternal king alive in the Eucharist, it becomes possible to love in ways beyond our imagination.

When, through prayer, we permit him to take authority over us, his kingdom comes to dwell in us, and our lives radiate the Truth to all he sends. This is his kingdom now.