Getting us ready.

Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly

Jesus’ dialog for the long road continues today. Over the past two weeks we listened in on Jesus’ talk with His disciples. He meant to prepare them, and deep down He knew He was. It would all eventually become evident to them – Who Jesus is, what laid ahead.

The dialog approaches its conclusion with a prayer to the Father, a prayer for us, and again we listen in just as the disciples were listening in. He prays: the words You gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from You, and they have believed that You sent me. I pray for them.

The road starts with Jesus’ word, a word that conveys sacramental effect in us. We only need listen to what we have been given, accept it, and understand that the One who provided that word was sent by the Father and is God. We have God’s word and if we believe on Him we are obligated to know Him and live out all He said and did.

The road ahead continues in doing what the disciples did. They returned from the ascension and took up prayer. They prayed as one and in the One who taught them how to pray. They lived and prayed as He prayed they would. They prayed in expectancy, for the working of God’s awesome plan; worked through our witness and in accord with the promptings and action of the Holy Spirit.

The road goes on in our work. It is amazing, isn’t it – St. Peter would tell us to Rejoice to the extent that [we] share in the sufferings of Christ. These words tend to trip off the tongues of the saints – and there is a reason. They experienced Jesus. Deep down they all encountered Him. Peter and the apostles, the disciples who walked with Jesus and saw it all, understood the promise. They saw the resurrection, the new man, the promise of heaven’s open door. Paul found it on the road to Damascus, right in the middle of his sin, hate, and anger Jesus broke through. The mystics and contemplatives found Him in prayer. Francis heard Jesus voice and set to work. The martyrs knew where they were headed. They counted suffering nothing because they knew where the road led.

We have been prepared for the work so that when his glory is revealed [we]may rejoice exultantly. We have Jesus’ word, the Spirit’s gifts, the model of the Acts Church, and the charge to carry on as His witnesses. Ready? Yes, ready Lord!

In it
to win it.

The rulers sneered at Jesus. Even the soldiers jeered at him. One of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus.

In two of the three yearly cycles of readings, the Gospel for Christ the King comes from Jesus’ Passion and from His suffering on the Holy Cross, as in today’s Gospel. In the other year, it is the Gospel of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats at the final judgment. That separation is based upon what we have done. None of these Gospels outrightly gives us a sense of the glories of Jesus’ Kingship or the magnificence of the Heavenly Kingdom.

These Gospels, and the readings around them may cause us to wonder what it means to be subjects of the King, our Lord and Savior, the very Kingship we celebrate today.

Much of our world is focused on victory, isn’t it? The old saying, ‘You have to be in it to win it,’ doesn’t focus on being part of a community or a team. Rather, it focuses us on winning above all.

Winning, whether on the sports field, at work, in social circles, while cooking, or online is what we understand we must do. Especially in the Western world and in our country in particular, winning is prized, everything else classifies us as losers. Even our choices have to be winning choices. Is our chosen team the big winner, the champion? Is our favorite on the Great British Bake-Off going to make it?  Did we overcome in the Facebook political argument? Is our political party on top?

As our Gospels for this day show, winning, being champions, overcoming in God’s Kingdom and for our King is very different than anything the world expects. Being under the Lordship and Sovereignty of Jesus is not about winning at all – the winning was taken care of once and for all on the cross of Jesus. Our call in Jesus’ Kingdom is simply to be in it. Winning, as St. Paul would put it, is about being nailed to the Cross of Christ so to share in His victory.

Being under the King means we have to be seen as losers by the world’s standards. It means we never fail to go out of our way to help, to give, to sacrifice our agenda for another. It means life in the brotherhood and sisterhood of community. It means fasting so another may eat. It means speaking God’s truth to power. Yes, we who are in Christ have won. The glories will come if for now we are real with zeal for the Kingdom.