We celebrate the end of the liturgical year rejoicing in Christ, our true king, followed by the First Sunday of Advent, reminding us of the last judgment and preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

“You say I am a king”
(Jn 18:37)

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

Pilate is seeking truth in a trial he is forced into hearing. Instead of being swayed by Jesus’ accusers Pilate privately takes him aside and pointedly asks about his kingship. Jesus knows this is hearsay for Pilate, who questions him still further. Jesus gives him the eternal truth. Pilate listens, finding no guilt, but compromises to avoid a rebellion. Hence begins the “coronation” of Jesus, king of the universe.

We know the rest of the story of his suffering, death and resurrection of our king and redeemer. Jesus’ first crown was not bejeweled in gold, but twisted thorns. His cloak was a burial cloth. Yet, his resurrection won the battle of all battles: victory over sin and death. His battle was not for land, but for souls. This king reigns over hearts, where he establishes his kingdom.

We are in the midst of royalty. Jesus is the king of the universe. His reign is rooted in love and manifested in self-sacrifice for the salvation of his people. He also stands in final judgment based on truth: the truth which is himself. Justice will cover those who dwell in his kingdom. Those who fight against truth will ultimately lose. Those who strive to live in the truth will prevail.

Jesus’ kingship is greater than one of earthly royalty, which may be limited and perfunctory. The streets of his kingdom are paved with stones of indelible truth carefully placed by the creator. This is the footpath for us as disciples. Jesus’ footprints are impressed on the stones enabling us to know exactly where to place our own feet. This is how closely we follow our king; so close that we inhale his exhale. We walk humbly with our servant king, in loving sacrifice and intentional awareness of others. Where exactly is the locale of this kingdom? It is in our hearts.

What earthly king allows such close proximity? Whose footsteps am I following? Am I sacrificing for the sake of others? Am I giving Jesus “all glory, laud and honor to the “Redeemer King” whom I owe everything?

Be vigilant

The First Sunday of Advent readings are unexpected. The liturgical year begins with a whole-hearted reminder of the promise made through King David, with the coming of the one who will establish justice, as well as a calling to be prepared for the end times, Christ’s second coming. This is not meant to instill fear, but rather to help us be prepared and accept his mercy and love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “The word became flesh in order to save us by reconciling us with God; so that we might know God’s love; to be our model of holiness; and to make us partakers of the divine nature (CCC #456-460).

This is how we prepare for the birth of Jesus and the second coming. We examine our lives, partake in the sacrament of reconciliation and accept the mercy of God. Freedom from the sin allows us to walk in the light of Christ. We love like God and accept God’s promise of everlasting love. We respond to our call to holiness in leading lives rich in virtue, the beatitudes and mercy, thus sharing in the divine nature of God. He desires us to be with him eternally. The end of our life on earth is the beginning of our life in heaven. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Why would we choose to walk a different path from the one set by Jesus?

So as we light our way to Christmas by way of the Advent wreath let us expand our prayer, in quiet moments, of our days ahead, “Come into my life. I trust you, Lord. I believe you love me. I need your love. You know the way to my heart. Come Lord, Jesus. Come into this house, into my family, into our struggles. Come fill me with peace and the love that only you can give. Come and heal us, and give us joy. Come and unite us and let us experience, each in our own way, the joy you are offering us now.”

Prepare the way of the Lord.

Dow is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.