“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, … he will sit upon his glorious throne.” These words in our Gospel today speak to us of a King, a Ruler, a conqueror, a judge looking over all His subjects and dictating their place in the kingdom. For our American, democratic minds, one might have a repulsion to this image, this person, to the King of Kings. For, we were meant to be free from oppression, free from tyranny, free from the rule of a king over our lives, free to choose our own future, our own place in the kingdom. Independence is our cry and yet here we are, celebrating the one King who rules over all the earth. This is something we hear so often in our faith and yet have we really paused and realized the great implications Christ’s kingship has on our whole being.
In society today I have recognized a renewed desire for bodily perfection. My brother, a fit young man, who has taken up the sport of body building expressed a prevailing philosophy behind this renewed physical fit culture when he said to me one day, “I want to reach my body’s perfect form.” And oh how we all wish to achieve that, but can we or should we? In our first reading from Ezekiel we hear, “but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.” Christ, the perfect King over all, recognizes something we often fail to see, the glorified self, revealed in a dependency, a union with God, something given to taken. Our whole self, body and soul, finds its perfection in being God’s subject, allowing Him to rule, to shepherd us and lead us back, so that we might be “all in all” as St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians.
This is why Jesus came in the first place, to “destroy every sovereignty and every authority and every power.” Don’t get me wrong, it is good to have physical health, but to take authority over your life, to depend on yourself for completion, fulfillment, fullness? No. Christ came to reign until all power, all authority, all sovereignty was placed under his feet, “when everything is subjected to Him,” as Paul says in our second reading. This is the glory that we speak of in the beginning of our Gospel today, the glory of Christ ruling over all beautiful people, created in God’s imagine and likeness who lost sight of their beauty by grasping at life, seeking to take possession of it themselves.
Written in our very bodies we find that we were made for another, for completion in another. And so often times we grasp at this completion this fullness as if it is something to be grasped at. We must wait, groaning inwardly as St. Paul says in Romans 8:23, waiting for the redemption of our bodies. We wait to be rescued from every place where we have been scattered, so that in Christ the King, we may be all in all with the God in whom we were made for. For it is only in union with Him, in dependency in Him that we find our redemption in heaven. So no matter where you are: lost, strayed, injured or sick, Christ has come to give you rest, to draw you close to the Father.
No matter how you put it, we need a King, someone to rule over our hearts, to be the master of our whole being. There is no self-made sheep in the Kingdom of Heaven, only God-made creatures in need of their maker. Whatever your vocation in life, whatever your call, we recognize today, at the end of the Liturgical Year, that when all is said and done we find our freedom in a Conquering King who brings us into glory. We are set free, as we heard in the opening prayer, through surrender to Christ our King who has come into the world to bring all things under His rule so as to bring all things to His Father.
And are we not partakers in His plan, when surrendered to His will? Are we not to seek Him where He has found us? In the brokenness of our world will we find Him, the Shepherd of our lives! Thus, He beckons us to enter into the far reaches of our world where captives are to be set free, where man’s imperfection cries out for completion, for union. If we cannot find Christ there, there in the lost, the strayed, the injured, the sick, than how will we find Him in our own selves. And when He comes in all His Glory, seated on the Throne, bringing all things under His rule, will we recognize our need for a King?
Fr. Patrick McConnell was ordained a priest in 2012 for the Diocese of Superior. He is the associate pastor at St. Patrick Church in Hudson, Wisconsin and the Assistant Vocation Director for the Diocese of Superior. Father Patrick has attended the TOBI, TOBII and TOBIII courses at the Theology of the Body Institute.