The Gospel Stories speak to us in the setting of what is going on in our life when we read or hear them. Right now with the death of my sister there is a lot going on that has been suggesting different insights both to the Feast of Christ the King, and to the Kingdom of God.
In the Story Jesus is ridiculed while dying on the cross. His response is to simply accept the ridicule of one person, and to welcome the other person to paradise. This is not what we would consider the act of a powerful king. Jesus is called King because he shows us the goodness that is in us, and calls us to act as he did because this is what we are created to be and to do — be there for others and not be concerned with our own prestige, or let our egos be bruised and our noses get out of joint. Jesus’ Kingdom has nothing to do with power and control, and a lot to do with being open to the Spirit and freely and willingly present to the folks around us.
During the two months of my sister’s injury and hospitalization we met many wonderful caring, gentle, and kind people of many religious traditions and of no religious tradition in several hospitals and care centers as so many helped her on her journey back to God and our family. They were not limited to medical and nursing staff and pastoral care, but also custodial, food service, admin, and volunteers. Visitors filled her room with love that was truly palpable. What their religious traditions were or weren’t was really of no consequence. Their whole focus was on taking care of my sister and of us. They showed great kindness and tenderness towards all of us. A number of them were in conditions or situations that, for one reason or another, some would call intrinsically disordered, sinful, and if catholic would be judged unworthy of receiving communion, and so on. These were the same kind of wonderful folks that Jesus spent a lot of time with. They reflect what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
These past week we watched as the Kingdom of God happened all around us. It was not at all about rules and dogmas. It was all about being there for my sister and us, and working with and supporting each other. And it is still going on with things as simple as sharing a drink, listening, and good solid conversation. The Kingdom of God is simply about each of us being open to the Spirit moving us towards someone who might need our supportive presence or help.
The death of a family member or someone important to us can uncover a lot of things we have not dealt with well over the years. We need to be open to the Spirit, too, and let Her guide us however and wherever. We believe each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, and that God loves all of us equally and uniquely. A worthwhile question is what is the Spirit saying to us in whatever is going on in our life and whoever is in our life with us. How can we reflect Jesus’ being crucified and welcoming the man to paradise. In other words, how can we help Jesus bring our Father’s love to our situation and the folks who are in our life with us.
Religion is not about rules and definitions, as important as these might be. It is about each of us being open to the Spirit without placing any limits on what we will accept from the Spirit, about being less judgmental and more openly trusting that whatever is going on God is in it with all of us.
This is one way the Kingdom of God happens among us, as Christ the King asks us to be he disciples and live as he lived.