by James Paulin
Kings are expected to continue the line of succession to the throne. Queens were permitted in a minority of monarchies. Some royal families believed they were put in place by Divine providence and would keep their authority as long as the linage continued. A few of them did away with wives who could not produce a son and remarried until they were successful or resigned themselves to lack of an heir. When a prince was born the whole kingdom rejoiced. Church bells rang, there was dancing in the streets and much festivity. Today, a royal family has become cosmetic for the most part and wields little or no power yet world attention still is given to the few monarchies that still hold forth.
When kingdoms come to mind there is a certain amount of trappings that is usually associated with our thoughts. Palaces, robes, crowns of gold, coats of arms, perhaps an army are normally associated. Great amounts of real estate and subjects come with a kingdoms domain and along with these, territorial wars. Transfer of power from king to a prince when death occurred usually included a ceremonial coronation or crowning so the world would take notice and even pay homage. Music was composed; pomp and circumstance would rule the display. Lineage and succession are carefully adhered to.
Although it seems odd now, with the political advances in the world allowing more popular representation generally, God is often viewed as a deified king. A modern notion is far more encompassing and abstract. It is useful to think in terms of a spiritual kingdom as something we are associated with or not. Jesus had quite a lot to say about this kingdom of God and how to be in or out of it. He taught that it was desirable at all costs, difficult for the rich to enter, invisible, moral, and required a change of heart or true repentance to join. Indeed, to become a child of God is necessary to enjoy the peace and joyful spirit available. He even said one must believe with the openness of a little child to enter.
What did Jesus say about his place in the kingdom of God? He obviously was an authority on its most intimate details and endorsed it unequivocally. The answer to that question comes in an almost counterintuitive set of events. In an understated way, Jesus acknowledged he was the Son of God and the promised savior of the world. For his procession to royalty he was mounted on a donkey and hailed with waves of simple palm branches. The next day, he was accused of being a charlatan, duping the masses with lies and blasphemes. When asked if he was a king he claimed a kingdom not of this world but that he was, in fact, a king. Those who refused to see God’s might through the power of love instead of secular domination tried to eliminate him by torturing his body and crucifying it. What a pitiful attempt to usurp God’s will but, God allowed it to be to permit man’s redemption and sanctification by the one acceptable sacrifice. Then Jesus rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father as choruses of angels sing “Alleluia, Alleluia, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He shall reign forever and ever”.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.