…and Christ shall reign forever!

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In 313 A.D. when Constantine became ruler of the Roman Empire, he declared Christianity to be the State religion. The good that came from this was that it ended the persecution under which the Christians had been living. The Church became very powerful, bishops began wearing the purple of the State senators. Churches took the shape of Roman basilicas and while the government of the Church mirrored that of the Empire, conversions were demanded by the sword. Until now, Jesus as the Good Shepherd was most depicted in religious art. Now the portrait of Christ the King—Jesus dressed in royal robes, a crown, scepter and orb became very popular.

The problem with all this is not in using Imperial language in reference to Jesus. Jesus described Himself as a king. But Christianity started to forget that Jesus also pointed out that His kingdom was not of this world and that His courtiers would be identified by the love and compassion they demonstrated toward one another.

How appropriate this Gospel reading is for the Feast of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the Church year! A year ago we started listening to the prophecies that a Savior would be born and then we celebrated His birth at Christmas. All year we have listened to Jesus’ instruction: “Love God and love your neighbor!” He told us over and over to believe in Him, to trust Him and He showed us the path to His kingdom by demonstrating compassion, mercy and justice. How much more could a man give than to die for someone else? We listened to His reassurances that He would not leave us orphans, that He would prepare a place for us. We heard Him plead with His Father that all would be one: He with the Father, the Father with Him and that all of us would be united with them as well. And then He left His Church, which carried on His instructions. He left us His path to follow, the path to the Kingdom and we know not when that path will come to an end. Be alert! Stay awake Paul instructed in last week’s epistle.

And now we’ve come to the end of that path. We stand before our King—our King of love, compassion, mercy —and justice. Will we come to be united with Him and the Father in that eternal kingdom or will we be among those designated to His left, lost forever in the wilderness?

On the last day, our King will reign forever. Will we reign with Him? Our path lies before us. Let us follow it before it is too late!

Linda Caminiti