Christ the King

Excerpt from “Awakenings” (Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.)

“The crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate reversal of values. Jesus in the parables puts a tremor under the values of the people of his time. He continues to do the same for us as we hear the gospel today. He creates earthquakes under our self satisfied and prepackaged value systems.

Here we see Jesus dying on the cross, crucified, rejected, obliterated, his life’s work reduced to zero.  In what does this reversal of values consist? It consists in divine love manifesting itself in the promise of Christ to the good thief.  As soon as he opened to divine love, the thief ceased to be a thief.  Jesus instantly acknowledged him as a member of the kingdom: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Pharisees and the Roman authorities were unrepentant.  The good thief, by acknowledging his crime, ascended to heaven.  This is the ultimate reversal of values.  It is the confrontation of divine love and human pride.

John’s Gospel perceives Jesus reigning from the cross.  Divine love is triumphing over the apparent victory of worldliness, violence, and sin.  Anyone who accepts that vision is reigning with Christ in the kingdom right now.  To paraphrase Jesus’ words to the good thief, “You are in paradise right now even amidst your sufferings.”  Thus, as soon as we open ourselves to divine love, our sins are forgiven and forgotten.  We are instantly placed, like the good thief, in the reign of divine love.  Thus, as the value systems of this world are reversed and selfishness is crucified in the body of Christ, divine love is poured out over the human family and made available to everyone who consents.

The reign of Christ the King is not a reign of power but of compassion.  He invites us to participate.”


13 thoughts on “Christ the King

  1. I suppose to identify with the good thief – and who among us hasn’t at some stage – is contrite humility and faith in one. And as Fr. Keating says, Christ’s words from the Cross of suffering, Christ’s compassion towards the good thief are just as directly addressed to us today. Christ the King’s reign is spirtual not temporal and is therefore universal and eternal.
    I visited the site of the Cistercians – the Outreach programme is a great idea, doing away with the kind of negative mystique that once surrounded the contemplative lifestyle – a sort of them and us. Now we are all invited to dine at the table, bringing us closer to God and to each other.
    Thanks, Gabrielle, and thanks also to Fr. Thomas Keating.

  2. “Divine love is triumphing over the apparent victory of worldliness, violence, and sin. Anyone who accepts that vision is reigning with Christ in the kingdom right now.”

    for me, this beautifully ties in with my post today on faith, hope, love and forgiveness. yes, we are invited to participate in the healing of compassion. may we each accept the invitation!

  3. At the church I visited today, the preacher talked about a particularly horrible time in his life. He had buried three young men killed in three different traffic accidents, then the wife and two young children of a parishioner who burned to death in a car crash. What horror, he said: a large casket and two small white ones on either side. He still remembers it. And he wonders, “Who’s in charge here?”

    And he said we have to trust that Christ is king. That no one is lost. And I guess that’s the best we will do in this life, on this side of eternity. No one is ever lost.

  4. Ann, yes, and I think one of the key things being said here is that Divine Love is made available to everyone “who consents”. As I was discussing the other day with Terry in his combox (The Road to Kingdom Come – in my sidebar), it’s all a matter of grace, isn’t it, and not ignoring, avoiding or rejecting grace when it is given. And Fr. Keating – I just love him.

    Lucy, that’s it exactly – we must consent, we must accept the invitation given to us through grace! When we have experienced this Divine Compassion, this Divine Mercy, and we recognize it and rejoice in it, then we can begin to work with Him as instruments of compassion and mercy ourselves.

    JustMe, that would not be surprising, would it. What a wonderful thought you’ve shared. Now you have me remembering how Peter ran to Mary, confessing that he had denied her Son three times, and she comforted him. (Is that Biblical – shame on me for not knowing without looking it up – or was it just in the movie?) Or was it a revelation from Anne Catherine Emmerich? You know what I “hate” about the “Life and Revelations” volumes of Anne Catherine Emmerich? They are each about two inches thick, WITH NO INDEX AT THE BACK. There. I had to scream in capital letters, that’s how mad it makes me. 🙂

    Judith, the question of suffering and the loss of innocent lives is always one of the most difficult things for us to deal with, isn’t it. In the face of personal, national or world-wide tragedy, it can be either the death-blow to faith or the strengthening of it. Trust is key, yes; trusting in His Sacred Heart, even though we don’t understand anything – even though we have heartrending “whys?” pouring out all the time.

    But I think that we also, in terms of Christ the King, have to (as individuals, nations and globally) realize we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Jesus is told continually that He isn’t welcome in our schools, in our governments, in our offices, in our marriages, in our bedrooms, but then everyone wants to know “where was God?” during every illness, or tornado or tsunami. God either desires or allows everything that happens; He seems to be “allowing” an awful lot these days.

  5. You know, after Mass yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that there was not enough “celebration” in that last Sunday of the year. You know it was “just like any other Sunday.” And after I posted my remarks I was lead to more sites that gave glory to the Kingship of Christ. The reality is I had celebrated and there was joy in the reality of his Kingship. I wanted a party and I got love, compassion and understanding from the words of those to whom he sent me. Thank you for being one of them.

  6. I found myself thinking much yesterday and today about the triumph of the cross. I have been working on a post on my blog that addresses the whole issue of how desperately we hold on to life in light of Christ’s surrender to suffering and death for our salvation and his glorification. It is slow going because it is radical thinking.

    Jesus said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done and he paid the price. How generous and selfless.

    The gospel today speaks of the widow’s mite. Also generous and selfless. And what price did she pay by giving all that she had to live on?

    There is a cost for our faith practiced well and to it’s fullest. I wonder what cost I am willing to incur, how generous and selfless I can be. It is a continual process of discovery.

  7. GrandmaK, what a lovely comment; I’m touched. I know what you mean, though; being the last Sunday in our liturgical year, and the Kingship of Christ being so important, one would think that a little more might be made of it. But then again, the fact that it isn’t made more of is right in line with Jesus’ total humility, and it’s up to us as followers, just like in the early days of the Apostles, to spread the Good News. 🙂

    Jackie, thank you!

    Terry, I’m looking forward to reading that post when it’s ready; I am really curious to know your thoughts on why we “desperately hold onto life”. You know, I don’t think we can really know the extent of what cost we are willing to incur ahead of time; we depend so much on the Holy Spirit to lead us and strengthen us, don’t we.

  8. Oh, I, too, thought “Christ the King” day was a little too low-key. We here in America are not a royal nation.. perhaps we really cannot identify with earthly royalty so as to think in terms like that.. but for Pete’s sake, do I not recall far more an acknowledgement of this Day– even from a few years ago? For days prior to yesterday, “Hosanna, hosanna, in the highest” kept replaying in my mind. I didn’t know why. Now, maybe I do. Indeed, we who call Him King, must lay our selves down as a carpet fit for the King. We shall herald His advent.

    It’s not anywhere in Scripture, G, about Mary having something to do with Dysmas’ unique plea, springing from a hope that made no earthly sense.. but while Mary was present at the three crosses, she’d have looked at him on His left and at him on His right with compassion, and also with wisdom in knowing that He.. HE.. was crucified between these two mortals for some Reason. She would know that God was saying something incredibly important with this seeming detail, too– just as He had arranged to do at Cana.

    What did Dysmas see in this Jesus’ mother? He couldn’t have been unfamiliar with Jesus — neither of them were, according to what Gestas snarled out in his rage and pain. Dysmas would’ve known that Jesus was indeed NOT guilty of a crime. To behold His mother, then, who knew it even more than all who were present.. his heart would’ve hurt for her heart, breaking right before his eyes; she, who was always so quiet and hidden, and then — at that moment of his compassion — did he find that she was looking back at him, with pain?

    Well, I don’t know how much of Emmerich’s vision is literally true, but we can step into Dysmas’ wood, where we are already self-nailed, and look out at a motherly Queen, who is always directing us to Love Himself.

  9. Beautiful, JustMe, and something I have never reflected upon. Yes, Mary surely would have looked with compassion on the thieves to the left and the right of her Son. “She would know that God was saying something incredibly important…” Is it any wonder she spent the rest of her life, as she had done her entire life up to that point, pondering and praying.

  10. The penultimate contemplative, indeed. I don’t deserve to be able to figure out what “the school of Mary” means, but it seems to be unfolding more every now and then.

    Just as there was, from the Father, through the Holy Spirit, the gift of a Simon for Jesus (which would’ve eased Mary’s heart a tiny bit), and just as there was the gift of a beloved disciple for Mary’s honor and safekeeping (which would’ve eased Jesus’ heart a bit), I believe Dysmas’ love was a gift to both Their Hearts.. as well as to John the priest, to Mary Magdalen the penitent sinner at this most holy Mass, to the Centurion who would convert within hours, and to all the Church. A gift even to Gestas, who must behold the Church who prays for him, which his inner hell shall not prevail against, until the moment he perishes, and then some.

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