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Kingship and the Kingdom of God - A Reflection for the New Year

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January 17, 2017

Kingship and the Kingdom of God

A Reflection for the New Year 2017

 

As a new year begins, I reflect on the meaning of kingship and lordship in light of the challenging experience it was to endure the election season of 2016. To say the least, the past year was a very bitter and exhausting one in the political world.  Kingship and lordship are a bit foreign to our modern ears and ways of understanding how the world is organized.  But I remember the readings from the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, from the weeks after the election, and find them helpful as I seek to be a person of holiness, light, and peace in the new year that lies ahead of me, 2017, even while news of hatred and insults continues this week as a new president is sworn into office.

God, however, offers us a different and a more complementary way of viewing our relationship to leaders and how they relate to the common people.  In the first reading (2 Samuel 5:1-3), God uses the verbs "shepherd" and "be commander" of Israel when he tells King David how he should govern the tribes of Israel.  We get hints that a great leader should be ready to lay down life for the people, and to sacrifice on their behalf for the common good.  Before being anointed King of Israel by the elders, King David first has to make an agreement with the elders of the people.  This last verse shows that God does not want leaders to simply rule over people by brute force, but to work with the people in respect to the common good and welfare of the people.

Christians discover more of their role within God's Kingdom and plan in the second reading (Colossians 1:12-20). Christians learn that they are "fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light."  We learn that we are children and heirs in the "Kingdom of his beloved Son."  The nature of the Kingdom is displayed during the crucifixion scene (Luke 23:35-43).  The road ahead for Christians will not be easy nor simple nor full of the world's acclaim.  In the Gospel, bystanders and rulers "jeered at Jesus" while he was hanging bruised and bloody on the cross.  They question his origins and his claims to divinity.  "If you are really the King of the Jews, come down from that cross!"

There are two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus; one mocks Jesus as well.  The other one tells him to stop his remarks, saying that they deserved their punishment while Jesus has done nothing wrong.  The thief asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his Kingdom.  There, among the insults, the hatred, the mockery, the Divinity makes itself known in an unlikely time and place.  Jesus' response to this thief: "Today you will be with me in Paradise."  May we be the people who sow peace even in the noise of hatred and insults, especially in the year 2017. 

 

Leanne Pavel is a 2008 alumna of Catholics on Call.  She enjoys volunteering, singing in choir, reading, and being with family and friends. 

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