There is a certain feeling one gets when ending a long-involved and personally-invested job. It is known as termination syndrome, which means that one feels that the job or duties were not done well enough leading to sadness and depression. “I thought I would have done much better.” The more we want to do something close to our hearts, the less we feel we have done them. Endings can face us with our incompleteness and personal flaws.
We are praying toward our last Sunday of the liturgical year, which is also known as Christ the King Sunday. The First Sunday of Advent follows which is the beginning all over again of our being attracted to Jesus, by Jesus and with Jesus.
We can pray these days as we head toward the celebration of Christ the King, with the experiences of just how we are terminating this past year of relating with Jesus. We might begin by experiencing our own sense of termination syndrome. We could pray with feeling less a follower and wallowing in feelings of self-disgust and even reluctance to continue. I suggest rather, we pray with God’s continuation syndrome in which God is always beginning over and over again to over and over share with us the Divine Love given to us through the person of Jesus.
This feast was offered to the Church in 1925 as a protest against the rise of modern secularism. Seculum is one of the Latin words for “world” or earthly creation. After the First World War there was a growing sense of the power of humanity to rule itself. God was not in charge. The world was having an identity crisis and was experiencing its own authority crisis as well. The Church promoted this celebration to present in a new, yet old way, the person of Jesus as “king of the universe”. Hitler, in Germany would propose himself as dominator of the known world shortly after this feast’s being initiated and many after him have striven for the throne, which makes this even more than ever the important protest of our days.
We are into democracy, for the most part, and tyrants and kings are synonomous. We pray to allow Jesus to be the Servant King, the life-giving Master Who gave His life so that we might live more freely His life. The tension of course is that there are so many little personal tyrants within us urging for their places of power. Ego, fear, revenge, pleasure, AND many others struggle for supremacy and control.
In the days of Jesus, to be lord meant the one who owns the persons and all the properties of that person or those persons. To be lord of the land was to have it all. Jesus is Lord, King, but we resist being dominated - hmmm, or do we! In each person there is a spirit or spirits which vye for the director’s chair and hat. So Jesus is Lord in His mind and heart, but not totally in ours; face it, this is what the spiritual life is all about. We belong to Him, but we do not allow this kingship into our lives, except slowly and occasionally. In the early days of the founding colonies, there was quite a spirited debate about just what to call the leader, George Washington, officially. The founders did not want to do anything with royalty. President was not the first title forwarded. Excellency was tried on, (imagine that one fitted on our nation’s leaders). So many international wars have all been about who would be king or ruler. That war wages within each of us and our little forces within us hate to lose, even to the King of the Universe.
Our First Reading for this Feast is a vision of Daniel. Four beasts have been destroyed, Babylon, and the power of God is prepared to be handed over to “a son of man” or a mysterious person who receives true authority and domination from the “Ancient One”. Kingship of the known Jewish world had been taken away by worldly kings of foreign origin, but now, the vision is reporting that the Ancient One was returning true heavenly power and glory to a special one, a “son of man” or an anointed for revelation and service of God and God’s people. This will be an everlasting kingdom giving the people of God trust and hope.
The Gospel has several key aspects, baut the main one is about the collision of two forms of king and kingdom. “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” Pilate’s does. Here is the twist. This world is His Kingdom, but it does not belong, or is owned or dominated by the ways of this world. John has Pilate prophetically say to Jesus that he is a king and Jesus kind of says, “Amen,You said it buster.”
The ending of this Gospel is a strong hint of John’s view of Jesus and His acceptance by some and not others. Jesus came to speak the truth, which He does in the presence of Pilate. This truth stands itself and needs no defense, which Jesus offers simply. Those who hear His voice, that is, those within the community of John’s disciples, trust the truth of Who He is and who they are in Him. Jesus as well as His followers need not apologize for their possession of the Truth, they have heard His voice and live within its power. Those who have not listened are in the dark and need to be defensive.
Advent begins next week and likewise we begin to face once more the call of God to allow ourselves to be loved
“The Lord will reign for ever and will give His people the gift of peace.” Ps. 29, 10-11
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