Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe reflection by Rachel Espinoza
What does it mean to say that Christ is King? How are we called to advance his kingdom on earth?
These are questions that we should take a moment to ponder on this Solemnity. Jesus makes it clear in today’s Gospel reading that he is not like other earthly kings; his kingdom is not of this world. But what does Jesus mean when he says that his kingdom is not of this world? Is he merely saying that he did not come to overturn the political order of the day, or something else? I think what he’s getting at here is that his kingdom is not something that we can create by our own efforts. As much as we ought to strive to extend the reign or kingdom of God through our efforts to imbue the world with the values of the Gospel, it remains elusive. God’s kingdom is something that ultimately only Christ will usher in fully when he returns in glory.
Bishop Ken Untener, former bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw Michigan penned a reflection called “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own” in which he writes: “It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”
I have always taken great comfort in this passage as a pastoral minister. I am a part of God’s plan, but my work is just “watering the seeds.” It’s not up to us to put together the perfect pastoral plan; it’s not up to us to be the Savior. For me, today’s feast ultimately invites us to a posture of humility -- one of realizing that we are humble workers in God’s marvelously expansive plan of salvation. To confess that Christ is King is to say that we believe that Jesus reigns from heaven, that he is in charge, and that he is moving in each one of our hearts, through the inner working of his Holy Spirit, to advance his kingdom here on earth. It is to acknowledge that while we all have our part to play, we are workers -- not master builders, as Bishop Untener has said. In the end, it’s his Church, his Mission, his Kingdom.