The Kingdom and the Cross

11-26-2023Pastor's LetterVery Rev. Richard C. Wilson, VF, Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

On the last Sunday of the year, the Feast of Christ the King, we focus on Christ as King of the universe, yet He was a man condemned to die on a cross. What a mysterious paradox! The Kingdom announced by the prophets has already come! Where is this Kingdom? Here, in the midst of us! Within us! What is this Kingdom like? Christ makes it clear to us over and over again: “My Kingdom is not of this world!” (John 18:36) “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them...It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,” (Matthew 20:25-26)

The Kingdom is within us. It is born and grows with the strength of the Spirit, and it lives by the Eucharist and by our love shown in deeds. It is seen when we disappear from the eyes of men in order for all the goodness of God to show through us instead. Origen, a third century theologian, taught that the Kingdom of God will not come in a spectacular way, nor will people say: “Look, it’s here!” or “Look, it’s over there!” Rather, the Kingdom of God is within our hearts. When we say “Thy Kingdom Come” we are asking that the Kingdom within us shine through to the world.

The criterion for belonging to the Kingdom is charity. It is charity understood as solidarity with those who do not have all they need to live, to whom we give food and drink. With those who need clothing: clothe the naked. With those who have no home: help them with shelter. With those who are ill: visit the sick. With those who have no freedom: visit them in prison. If we want to know if we form part of the Kingdom of God, we must ask ourselves how we practice the corporal works of mercy.

Pilate had them write above the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” He did this because he had already asked Jesus, “Are you a King?” In antiquity the cross was a sign of punishment and condemnation, but Christ made it salvific.

May we fall in love with this symbol of our royalty as expressed by St. John Chrysostom: “All is made perfect among us by the cross. Whenever we want to renew, purify, or nurture ourselves, we always have before us the symbol of victory. This is why we trace this sign with fervor above our homes, our walls, our windows, our foreheads, and our hearts. Because this is the sign of our salvation, the sign of the freedom of the human race, the sign of Lord’s goodness and mercy toward us.”

All the best…in Christ,
Father Wilson