It must be more than coincidental that just following the most divisive and unusual presidential campaign in anyone’s memory, the Church universal celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Americans have been torn up for well over a year now, debating with others and within themselves which candidate they felt could next best lead our country – according to the constitution, our values, our beliefs, and many other measuring sticks. The aftermath of election day has left many heads spinning, hearts confused and broken, and brings uncertainty suddenly into many lives.
This solemnity should remind us, though, of two things.
First, during Christ’s passion and crucifixion, which we hear a little different part of in Luke’s Gospel, Christ reminds Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” and “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Then, in today’s Gospel, Jesus continues to show us through his passion that his definition of Kingship is upside-down from what most of us believe it to be: someone who is sneered at and reviled, and someone who serves the repentant – and indeed everyone – with love and compassion, giving of himself in humility to the point of death of a cross. Paul writes that the blood of his cross brings peace – again, something upside-down from our usual understanding, and something that in these days just past the general election seems to be in short supply. Many people are angry, scared, hateful, and desolate. But again, just like Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, neither is his peace. Anyone who believes any presidential candidate of any time and place can, by himself or herself alone, truly bring God’s peace to earth is probably incorrect. Christ is the source of those things, and needs his whole body on earth to make them real for all of creation.
Second, Paul writes in today’s epistle, possibly quoting an early Christian hymn,
“He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.”
What does this mean for us today? Simply, it means we belong to Christ. We are not created by our government, our identity is ultimately much more than any world leader can give us, and our lives are owed to Christ and Christ only. It is his kingdom we strive to build, and his peace we try to bring. In that regard, no matter who wins an election, we all have work to do. We pray as if it all depends on God, and act as if it all depends on us. What can you do today to show others you are a citizen of God’s kingdom of truth and self-sacrificing love? What can you do today to bring God’s peace to someone in need? Where do you look for truth, love, and peace? Can you let others find those Christian principles in you?