Wanting Christ to be King

Is it me, or does today’s parable from St. Luke’s gospel sound strangely familiar? On Sunday we heard a slightly different version, which was recorded by St. Matthew.

The version which St. Luke records includes one extra element. Anyone catch it? The master goes to be proclaimed king. Some among his subjects do not want him to be the king.

Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven and has been crowned king of the universe. He will return again in glory when history comes to a close.

When we consider Christ the King–when we perceive His gentleness, His truth, His honor, His compassion, His mercy, His love—when we meditate on the unsurpassable goodness and peace of His reign—we might reasonably wonder: Who on earth would not want this man to be the king? Who could rule better? Christ’s reign comes as the answer to every human hope and prayer.

Perhaps we could imagine some truly hardened sinners who would not want to be subject to Christ. Christ’s realm is honest, chaste, and humble—humble, at least, by the standards of this fallen world. Christ’s subjects do not enjoy great earthly wealth and pleasure.

The poor souls who have all but lost their taste for truth and for heaven, because they live habitually in the throes of vice—maybe we could see why they would reject Christ as a king.

But a person has to fall very far into sensuality before he winds up hating Jesus Christ. We cannot be satisfied with this as the full explanation for this element of the parable. In order to explain why some of our brothers and sisters do not want Jesus Christ to be their king, we have to look at ourselves.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared:

Undeniably, those who willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to dodge religious questions are not following the dictates of their consciences, and hence are not free of blame; yet believers themselves frequently bear some responsibility for this situation…To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.

Our king sits in heaven, inaccessible to earthly eyes. The Church carries the image of Christ to present to the world. When we present Him faithfully, He Himself attracts; people immediately perceive that He is the best king to have.

But if we, His ambassadors, lose sight of Him; if we get wrapped up in ourselves and forget about Him—then it becomes our fault if others don’t want Him to be their king.

We may all be attractive, in our own particular ways–sure enough. Praise God. But Jesus Christ is infinitely more attractive than we are. When He shines out in us, people learn to love and obey Him—maybe sooner, maybe later, but they do.

May the world see Him in us.

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