Resurrection House Blog: Christ the King Sunday
Christ the King Sunday
If anyone here doesn’t know, my degree is in microbiology. I find great joy in studying the biological sciences. I see it as a way to meet God, and a way for me to intimately study the creation story. One aspect of biology that I have always found deeply spiritual is evolutionary biology.
In Darwinian evolution a key principle, which I’m sure you have heard before is the term, “Survival of the fittest.” In this model organisms, creatures, and individuals who survive are not those that are physically stronger or more fit, but those who are most adaptable to change.
In this model there is no need for creatures to look out for each other, in fact, looking out for other another member of your species may compromise your own chances of surviving a situation.
So the question to ask is why we, as humans love one another? From a biological standpoint, why should we show compassion at all?
The answer lies in our upbringing. In terms of a brain-to-body mass ratio, we as humans have the biggest brains in the animal kingdom. As such our babies are some of the slowest to mature. In order for us to ensure the growth of our feeble infants there had to be a shift in thinking.
Because our mothers had more dependent children, they had to think of someone other than themselves. In order for them to pass on their genes, they had to ensure their children grew up. A shift was made from just birthing children, to raising them.
Our ancestrial mothers learned that to be the most adaptive, they had to care for not just themselves, but someone else.
This bond between a mother and her infant is one of the reasons we have compassion, and if you were to lay out a biological time line you would roughly be able to point out where love was born.
Now you may be wondering where I’m going with all of this.
Well, a long time ago in small quiet town, a baby was born. A baby that would change everything.
Angels sang of his birth, shepherds gathered to be a part of the celebration, and later wise men would visit this child, bearing gifts worthy of a king.
But on the night he was born, his mother looked down into his sweet face and loved him, not for what he would do, or for who he would become, but simply because he was her baby.
God did not have to come to us in the form of an infant. He could have rode in on a white horse, or with great riches, or a gallant army. But he didn’t. God chose to come among us at one of humanity’s finest occasions: the birth of a child.
A love Mary had never felt before swelled up inside her, and although she might have been scared at the thought of new motherhood, she was going to be fine. Not because she would never make mistakes, but because four billion years’ worth of mothers had come before her, and prepared her for that moment.
Now that baby grew to be a man. A man that was fully human, and fully divine. As our Colossians reading for the day states, he was a man whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
During his time Jesus made many remarkable statements, one of which was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is known as the golden rule. We often think of Jesus as revolutionary, but history tells us that he was probably not the first to make this petition.
This rule, or a variation of it can be found in many religions and cultures, some well before Jesus’ time. God chose to reach down to us with outstretched arms of love in the form of Jesus and save us. But while he was here, why would he tell us things we already knew? Specifically the golden rule, which we had already heard?
Perhaps he wasn’t trying to tell us something new. Perhaps he was simply trying to remind us of who we really are. That deep down, we were made to love and be loved.
Jesus came into this world experiencing the beauty of humanity, but in the Gospel for today we learn that Jesus died seeing the worst of us.
Just as he could have come into this world in glory, we might wonder why he didn’t leave in glory. “”If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
But Jesus was loyal to the human race to the very end. Even defending us in our failure to see what we were doing.
At his death a criminal is promised paradise. Not because he has earned it, but simply because he asks. Through the interaction with this man we witness Jesus’ compassion. A compassion towards humanity that is profound, and certainly not well deserved. Even at his death Jesus does not stop demonstrating how to love.
This week we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. A feast day where we remember the coming of Christ, and recall his claim to return in glory.
Today also marks the end of our church calendar, next week begins Advent, our church new year.
The Christ that arrived, and died to save us, is still arriving.
Between this Sunday and next Sunday we have a beginning that’s like an ending and an ending that’s like a beginning.
As we prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ, today we reflect on the promise of his second coming. As Fr. John mentioned last week, we can only speculate the date and time of this second coming.
So what do we do with ourselves in the mean time?
We strive to remember his words of hope.
We strive to remember his acts of compassion.
We strive to listen to the whisper of God which tells us we are made of love.
The whisper that is intertwined with grace that is boundless and love that is never withheld.
A whisper that is deep within us, waiting to be awakened, and which is our human responsibility to listen to.
The quiet whisper that speaks of such wonderful things that often seem too good to be true.
The Scottish theologian George Macleod puts it this way, in a reflection titled On Where Jesus Died:
“I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace, as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a high cross between two thieves: on the town garbage heap; at a crossroad so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title in Hebrew, in Latin and in Greek…. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse and soldiers gamble. Because that’s where He died. And that is what He died about. That is where we ought to be and what we should be about.”
We can strive for the kingdom on earth by reaching out to everyone we come into contact with. Not just in places we are comfortable, but in places we are uncomfortable.
God calls us to love radically.
We begin with Christ, and we end with Christ.
When we love ourselves and each other for God’s sake, we can be Christ in the world, every day of the year.
– Reagan Grabbe