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Who reigns in your heart?

As we come to the conclusion of the liturgical year this weekend, the church fittingly invites us to ponder prayerfully the end of time. We understand that the world as we know it will come to a dramatic end. We know not the day or the hour; only the Father knows. He alone determines when that climactic event will arrive.

In that moment, Jesus Christ will come again. This time He will arrive in all His glory, surrounded by a multitude of angels. This time, in contrast to His first coming, there will be no doubt in any mind who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Every nation and people from all of time will gather before Jesus Christ, bowing in reverence and knowing that He is God's only begotten Son, the Savior of the world: "I am the Alpha and the Omega … the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty" (Rev 1:8).

This also will be the moment of the Last Judgment. The dead will rise from their graves, both the just and the unjust. Then, the naked truth of each person's relationship with God will be made clear: "Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. … And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Mt 25:31, 32, 46).

The reason for pondering the Last Judgment is to hear anew the call to conversion of heart. Jesus came down to earth some 2,000 years ago and inaugurated His kingdom. It is a kingdom, however, that will come to fulfillment in heaven. The fact that heaven is our true home is so fundamental that Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom does not belong to this world."

Christ the King did not chose to reign on this earth by the strength of an army, the power of politics or the advantage of wealth. He chose to reign by the strength of mercy, the power of sacrificial love and the advantage of His amazing grace.

One of the most captivating aspects of Christianity for me is that God does not force Himself or His will upon us in this life. He extends an invitation. He makes an offer. He knocks on the door of our hearts and waits for us to decide. Jesus does reign on this earth today, but He chooses to reign in our hearts by faith. He patiently, lovingly waits for us to love Him in return.

Our Gospel for today teaches us another aspect about Jesus' reign on this earth. He stands over a Kingdom of truth. "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" (Jn 18: 37).

God is truth. All truth in the universe comes from God and is rooted in God. Yet Jesus did not come to reveal the truth of science or the verities of history or the fine arts. These truths we can discover and marvel at by the use of reason. Rather, Jesus came to reveal eternal and unchanging truths about God and man that we could not arrive at through the mind's rational powers. Jesus came to reveal divine realities that help us become more than human, that grant us a share in the very life and love of God Himself. He came to reveal Gospel truths and a way of life that lead us to heaven, to a place of fulfillment, joy and peace that never will be found on this earth.

Christians with the help of God's grace must make a choice to follow Christ, to enter His Kingdom. We are perfectly free to respond to His tender mercy, His limitless love and His life-changing truth or not. He extends an invitation.

Will you let Jesus Christ be King of your heart?

Fr. Peterson is assistant chaplain at Marymount University in Arlington and director of the Youth Apostles Institute in McLean.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015