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Who is the King? What (or is it who?) is the Kingdom?

In Sunday's (November 20, 2022) Gospel reading (Luke 23:35-43), we see Jesus hanging on the cross, with the inscription "The King of the Jews" on a board above his head. We hear the exchange between Jesus and the repentant thief, who asks Jesus to "remember me when you enter into your kingdom."

This reading reminded me of one of my favorite church hymns, often played on Good Friday, based on these words of the repentant thief. Here is a link to a version of it:

But on the feast of Christ the King, we focus on Jesus as the King, on Jesus as the Kingdom of God. So, when I look at the cross. I also am reminded of the words of Pilate who brought out the beaten Jesus to the crowd and yelled out, “Behold your King!” (John 19:14).

Compared to other kings, it is odd to look at Jesus on the cross and to hear the words "Behold your King!". But that also got me thinking about Jesus present in the Eucharist. Can we look at Jesus in the Eucharist and say, "Behold my King!"? And even further, if Jesus is there in the poor, hungy, homeless, and other marginalized, can we look at Jesus in them and say, "Behold my King!"?

And then further I wondered, what does this kingdom look like, this kingdom of which Jesus is King? I am reminded of the explanation of the "Kingdom of God" by Pope Benedict XVI, in the context of Jesus' baptism. In Mark 1:15, Jesus states "The Kingdom of God is at hand." And Pope Benedict explained: the Kingdom is Jesus. The Kingdom is wherever Jesus is present. So, if you can picture in your mind not only an image of heave but also all those who are baptised, all those places where Jesus in present in the Eucharist, and all those neighbors in whose suffering Jesus is present, maybe that is a helpful image of what the kingdom of God looks like.

In that light, when it comes to serving our neighbors, especially in volunteering in our communities, consider this challenge for this week:

Imagine hearing the words of Pilate, "Behold your King!" with a sequence of these three images in your head: Jesus on the cross in today's Gospel. Jesus in the Eucharist at the Mass. Jesus in the neighbor you serve.

Imagine saying to someone who is poor, hungry, homeless, needing clothing, needing loving care: "Remember me when you enter into the kingdom". What will they remember you for?

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