Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’“
— Gospel of Matthew
What are we all going to do? Hallelujah Chorus time is approaching, and we all have to refrain from singing in groups. I’m so, so bummed out. My extended family is blessed with a number of really fine voices, from my extraordinary mother-in-law Helen who had a stellar career with the Metropolitan Opera to my Uncle Dennis who can hold his own (with considerable style and volume!) with any Irish tenor, to the three VonVannis (as Sheila’s friend Karen dubbed them, in a nod to the Von Trapps) who make me cry whether they are singing is solo or together. (I cry because it’s wonderful, not ear piercing. Really, you should watch those thoughts of yours!)
Anyway, we Churchy types, and particularly those of us who love the music of the approaching season, are all fretting already about Advent and Christmas. I have been whining about the need for good music to the Council more than once in recent weeks.
This week is the Feast of Christ the King, as it is traditionally called, or the Reign of Christ as the progressive Christians like to call it. You would think it would be back in the Easter season, but here we are, proclaiming Christ’s reign right as we’re about to get pregnant.
And yet, I am so struck by the bluntness of the Gospel this year. Oh, indeed there is God on God’s throne in all the royal splendor in Matthew’s text. But appearances are apparently deceiving. “Did you spot the ruler when God was in your midst,” we are asked?
Did you think he going to be holding a scepter? He actually showed up raising a Black Lives Matter sign to the sky.
Did you think she would have a purple and ermine cape? Actually, she favored a rainbow sash and matching socks.
Did you think he’d be spotted on a throne? Actually, he was in a wheelchair at the threshold of a building that is still not ADA compliant.
Did you think they’d be singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as she arrived? Actually it was Che Apache and the song was The Wall — sung to her at the border on a very hot day.
As the headlines in the paper get more concerning and the evening news brings no word of movement in the recalcitrant situation in our government, we might get the urge to not just physically distance but to go into total cocoon mode, shutting ourselves away. But Advent looms, and with it come the reminders that God is on the move, always yet again breaking into the darkness, coming to us in startling, surprising form. Including this beauty of a feast.
Yes, we are going to have a time in which we’ll once again raise communal voices in “And he shall reign, forever and ever!” But between now and then, we’ll stay watchful for the reign of a God who comes to us in places and people where we least expect to see God.
Our beloved Mary Jo loved substituting the word kin-dom for kingdom, not unlike many wonderful women formed in religious life and Christian feminists. Kin-dom reminds us that God’s reign is not a hereafter proposition — it’s about “on earth” as well as “in heaven.” To live in the kin-dom is right now and to be connected to each other in love and solidarity, not subjugated to empire. To happily be members of a world that is radically upside down. Happily.
More on all of that Sunday! I hope you’ll be with us. In gratitude for who you all are in the world,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
Jesus said to his disciples: