What is needed to be a king? Prince Charles prepared a lifetime for it. Did you know that through Baptism you and I have already been anointed as kings? But, do we have what it takes? Discover what’s needed in today’s message.
Through Baptism, we are grafted onto Jesus Christ. Thus, we become partakers in His divine nature, and we share in His three fold mission of priest, prophet, and king. Today we will examine what it means to share in Christ’s kingship. We all have a role to play in His kingdom. We are all called to bring others to Christ. But, as human beings, our ability to share in His kingship is impeded by our innate tendency towards sin. How can we rule as king over anything, when we struggle to rule over ourselves? Sin always gets in our way.
There are two key elements needed to carry out our shared kingship with Christ. First, we must learn to better rule over ourselves. This is no small task. Second, we must learn from Jesus that to reign means to serve others.
Let’s examine the first element. Saint Ambrose, who is remembered as the theologian and teacher who converted and baptized St. Augustine, stated the following: “That man is rightly called a king who makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing himself with suitable rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule his own person as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown headlong into wickedness.”
Let’s unpack some of that. Basically he said that if we are to be kings we must develop the discipline to rule over ourselves. This begs the question: Do we truly know how to rule over ourselves? What kind of a king are we? Are we under our rule or rather are we just unruly?
St. Ambrose also told us that to share in Christ’s kingship we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be imprisoned by sin. Breaking the grip of sin requires self denial and commitment. It is a lifelong process. Jesus is our model for this. He gave His life for us. Now we need to love Him in return.
In John 14:15 Jesus tells us how to love Him. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In verse 21 He states, “whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” He goes on to say this in verse 23, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
I guess you could say, that by keeping Christ’s commandments, not only do we share in His kingship, but since He and the Father come to dwell in us, we become a royal palace and a Holy Temple. Now that is something to ponder. Before moving on to the second element, let’s all reflect on this ancient quote “He who conquers others is strong, he who conquers himself is mighty.”
Okay, moving on to the second element of our shared kingship. To share in kingship means we must share in Christ’s royal dignity by serving the needs of the poor, broken and suffering among us. We must learn how to be a servant king. Jesus, “the Son of Man, did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). We are not to rule as earthly kings who rule with tyranny over their subjects. Jesus spent His life serving the needs of others, so in our shared kingship with Him, we are called to do the same.
Sharing in Christ’s kingship is rarely discussed. For most of us it is an unfathomable concept. Most of us feel unworthy and not suited for this task. I need to work harder at both elements of kingship, I bet you do too.
At his coronation, King Charles received a golden crown. Jesus on the other hand was crowned in thorns. Our crown awaits us in Heaven, but we are fitted for that crown here on earth. If we gain control over our sinful tendencies, and spend more time serving the needy, I suspect our crown will one day fit much better.
Heavenly Father, I accept and understand that Jesus is King, but I am left struggling to understand how I can participate in His Kingship. I find hope in knowing that although King David was a sinner, you loved him because of his contrite heart. Give me a contrite heart, and grant me the ability to carry out my kingship role. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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