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The word this week

Christ’s death and Resurrection have taken us out of the power of darkness and has enabled us to inherit the light

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, 2 Sm 5:1-3; Ps 122; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43 (Year C)

By on Thursday, 21 November 2013

“We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to inherit the light. Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of his Son that he loves, and in Him we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.”

The feast of Christ the King proclaims a kingdom already begun in our lives through the death and Resurrection of the Lord, and, at the same time, looks to the fulfilment of that kingdom at the end of time when “all things shall be reconciled through him and for him”.

The Letter to the Colossians, with its contrasting imagery of light and darkness, suggests the manner in which we already begin to experience the saving power of Christ our King. Because we are sinners, we already know what it is to live in the power of darkness. We know what it is to long for what is good and true, and yet, at the same time, find ourselves in the grip of a power that pulls us in another direction. At such times we feel that, despite our best intentions, darkness will always have the last word.

It is in this sense that Christ’s death and Resurrection have taken us out of the power of darkness and has enabled us to inherit the light. When we were helpless in our struggle against sin, Christ became in us the light that vanquished our darkness.

Throughout its long history, humanity has struggled to establish a kingdom of light and peace, a place in which all may dwell in safety. Sadly, this struggle has usually led to the concentration of power in the hands of the few, and the consequent subjugation of the many. The establishment of Israel’s kingdom brought with it the promise of a different kingdom, a kingdom in which God himself, through the Kingship of David and his successors, would establish God’s kingdom on this earth. “You are the man who shall be the shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”

King David and his early successors did indeed play a significant role in securing the survival of the people but, precisely because they were themselves sinners, they could never live up to their high calling, and could never establish God’s kingdom of peace in the hearts of those they ruled. Their kingdom, like all proud empires, passed away.

The promise of such a kingdom lived on, and was inaugurated at the birth of Christ, a son of David. “He will be great, and will be called Son of the most high; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and of this kingdom there will be no end.”

This kingdom, so confidently announced in Luke’s Gospel at the Annunciation to Mary, must be understood in the light of St Luke’s account of the crucifixion. The power of Christ’s kingdom claimed nothing for itself, trusting only in the Father. On the Cross Jesus endured the mockery that had invited him to save himself. He chose another path, another kingdom, another power.

Throughout Luke’s account of the Passion we see nothing of worldly power. Here, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing are revealed as the powers on which the kingdom would be established. Here, Jesus brought peace to the women who mourned for him, forgave those who had nailed him to the Cross, and from that Cross forgave the repentant thief.

Father, may your kingdom come, a kingdom in which we find forgiveness in your Son, a kingdom that brings reconciliation, healing and peace to a broken world.