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Christ the King

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GOSPEL COMMENTARY Nov. 21, Jn 18:33-37

Throughout the church’s liturgical year, the faithful are invited to ponder and celebrate the fullness of our Catholic faith. On this final Sunday of the church’s year, we gaze upon the end times with a special focus on the second coming of Christ who shall return triumphantly as king of the universe.

At Jesus’ second coming, his kingship will be revealed in full splendor. No human being will be able to avoid seeing Christ and being subject to his kingship. Those who roamed this earth and never acknowledged Jesus as king of kings and lord of lords will see him in all his glory. The Book of Revelation puts it in these words, “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”

At the same time, those who have known, loved and served him will have no fear on this great day. The faithful shall find great comfort in drawing even closer to their Good Shepherd, creator and redeemer of all mankind. When Jesus returns, it will herald the final stage of human history, an eternal moment when, in the words of the prophet Daniel, “All peoples, nations and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.”

At the same time, the truth of Christ will shine brilliantly, permanently and eternally. During Jesus’ last hours on this earth, in the midst of his false trial, Our Lord stated rather boldly, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” However, we know that pride, sin and human weakness have caused such damage to us as human beings that we are inclined to hide, avoid, distort and manipulate the truth, especially those truths divinely revealed about God and his plan for our sanctification that Jesus taught with patience, charity and skill. When Jesus returns at the end of time, there will no longer be the possibility of denying, subverting or hiding from the truth that is Christ Jesus. It will shine so brightly before men and women that it will reign without any disruption or interference for all eternity.

Following a rather similar vein, the kingdom of love that Jesus inaugurated will also reign in a new, glorious and eternal way. The love of God poured out in Christ is the flagship reality of the kingdom of God. There is no place in the kingdom of heaven for selfishness, hatred or sinful inclinations. The purest, most perfect love of God will spill over into the most generous love of neighbor at every moment for the rest of eternity.

The sacred Scriptures, when referring Christ’s second coming, often speak of a trumpet blast. This blast is a clarion call to us today to give God primacy of place in our hearts before it is too late. It is a stark reminder that we are called to know, love and serve God with all of our being while pilgrimaging on earth so as to be with him in paradise for all eternity. We recall now with great joy the privilege that Jesus has asked each one of us to help him build his kingdom on earth while there is still time.

Advent begins next Sunday. Ask the Lord how he needs you to take this season of preparation seriously and to assist him in the building of his kingdom. He may reveal to you that it is time to increase or refocus your prayer, adding meditation on the sacred Scriptures, going to Mass during the week, reading a good book on the life of a favorite saint or growing in your Marian devotion. Perhaps Our Lord may ask you to focus on the service of your neighbor in need, a family member or a hurting soul down the street. Maybe Jesus will challenge you to invite a friend to come to Mass with you and return to the practice of their faith.

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”

Fr. Peterson is director of mission and development for the Youth Apostles.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021