The liturgical year, Cycle A, concludes with the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, as the new liturgical year, Cycle B, begins with the First Sunday of Advent. The Sunday Mass readings fill us with the light of the kerygma (pronounced ke-rig-ma), the first proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ, namely “that in Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died and rose, salvation is offered to all people as a gift of God’s grace and mercy” (“Mission of the Redeemer” encyclical, St. John Paul II, 1990).  

This is the hope in which we live … Jesus, son of God, lived, suffered, died and resurrected so that the path to heaven is open by his perfect sacrifice which freed us from bondage of sin and death. Jesus loves us beyond measure. His mercy endures forever. We place our hope in his kingdom, his power and give all glory to our king.  

Hope in the kingdom  

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The Solemnity of Christ the King opens with a reading from the Book of Ezekiel. The prophet proclaims that God is the shepherd for the lost and exiled people of Jerusalem during the Babylonian captivity. Like a shepherd God looks after and tends the scattered flock, rescues them from darkness and provides rest and care. Even in our wandering away from the kingdom, the Lord pursues us. God’s kingdom is rich in mercy, yet he demands justice. Hence, those who choose not to follow him will be separated. For those who do follow, he rewards them sanctuary in the kingdom. This is eternal happiness.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1720 explains, “The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude (happiness) to which God calls man: the coming of the kingdom of God, the vision of God: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;’ entering into the joy of the Lord; and entering into God’s rest: There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?”  

God invites to live now in his kingdom by way of the path of Jesus Christ and anticipate with hope the eternal kingdom.  

Psalm 23 sheds incredible light on life in the kingdom. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” This well-known psalm gives rise to profound meditation. Place yourself in pasture filled with lush grass and embrace the calm, tranquil moment. Follow God to calm waters, as he refreshes your soul with quiet. Let the Lord guide you with advice, good counsel, enlightenment, teachings and movement on the right path. Then sit, sit at the table as the Lord pours abundant grace of anointing, sanctity and life, with goodness and kindness to follow. For surely, since the Lord is indeed our shepherd, we can fully trust in him for all that we need for today and in eternity, now and forever.  

Hope in the power 

Normally, when we refer to the power of a king, the first thought that may come to mind is the centralized power in one person, the one who holds the scepter, sheer authority, and unyielding might. Jesus Christ, as our sovereign king holds power with merciful might. Jesus reveals merciful power in his discourse of the final judgment. With an invitation, he said to his disciples when the son of man comes in glory, having separated the sheep from the goats, “He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me’ ” (Mt 25:21-46).  

Jesus’ power is the merciful path of love which gives hope to others in how we love and serve. This is restorative power; healing power; life-giving power. Jesus continues, “‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” We do it for him.  

“Christ, king and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came ‘not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.’ The people of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.” (Catechism paragraph 786) We respond in this same dignity by believing in our Lord, and responding in acts, works of mercy and sacrifices of our lives which bear the witness and hope in God.  

Hope in the glory  

Written on the human heart is the desire for happiness, the desire to belong. Belonging to God’s kingdom is like no other. There is no greater glory than to live life in the Lord. It fulfills our innate desire to know, to be in relationship, to love. As subjects of our king, we are invited to closely follow him, to love him, to serve him and to love neighbor as we love God. As our king, his riches pour out in drops of blood, his life sacrificed for ours, the sacrifice of all sacrifices, in order for us to share eternal life in the glory of God. He came to save. In the power of his scepter, the cross, upon which our king wore a crown of thorns, is found life-giving hope in the glory of God. For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen!  

Hope in Advent  

And so we begin anew. In four weeks, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, king of the universe. What is our desire during the next four weeks as we prepare for this celebration? How can we ask the Lord to feed our soul between now and Dec. 25? Are we asking God for the grace to grow in love, mercy and peace? Do we seek knowledge and wisdom of God? Are we going to Mass, reading the Bible, or sitting in silence? What do you hope for this Advent? How can we invite the Lord to show his face so we shall be saved? What are we thankful for in the midst of life?  

My friend carves out time to sit on her newly renovated back porch (damaged by the 2016 flood). She shares these times on social media as a way of inviting us to “sit on the porch with God.” She notes the way God makes his presence known to her, an example of his love. Jesus tells the disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!” I invite you, this Advent season to be watchful and alert for the Lord. Look for God in the present moment, even in the shadows. From the break of day to the glistening of the stars, become aware of the utter magnificence of God’s glory. Be alert in anticipation of the celebration of the Nativity of our king, our Lord Jesus Christ, a little baby, laid in a manger in Bethlehem, clothed in majesty of light. He who came to save us. Him we adore, for the kingdom the power and the glory are his, now and forever. Amen.  

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