by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
From time to time, it’s good to step back from our day-to-day activities and concerns to relook at the ideals—the spirituality—which as the saying goes “gets us out of bed in the morning.” At times we find that these convictions have taken on new force or new meaning or increased depth. Whatever the outcome of such mini-retreats, we inevitably find in them renewed inspiration and perhaps clearer meaning to what we do day in and day out. For that reason, we take a moment this week to turn from the usual social analyses and engagement in specific issues important as they are.
Today in the Catholic calendar we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. As we know, this marks the end of the church year and its culmination. So, it seems appropriate to reflect on these last 12 months since the First Sunday of Advent 2019 and look at the year’s liturgical cycle in its totality. As we know, the celebration of these liturgical seasons marks significant moments in the ongoing story of Salvation History. Reflecting on them helps us with this occasional time out.
We recall then:
- The darkness of Advent with its message of Hope of for the Promised One.
- The glory of the Savior’s Nativity and the time of his Epiphany in human history.
- The sternness of Christ’s desert experience connected with our own Lenten season.
- The high drama of Holy Week.
- The alleluias of Christ’s Resurrection, that extended all the way to Pentecost.
- The lengthy Ordinary Time of Jesus life and ours
- (And now a part of Ordinary Time marking a new liturgical moment, the Season of Creation.)
All culminating in our profession of faith in Christ, the Universal Savior, Christ the King.
This “Ancient of All Mysteries” clearly has a direct effect on our lives as Pax Christi USA. The title “Christ the King” is inextricably united with what Jesus proclaimed over and over in his lifetime, the Kingdom of God. It was his overriding message. And after all those events in his life which the liturgical cycle highlight, he left his followers with the great task of continuing what he had begun: building God’s kingdom on earth, working for the accomplishment of God’s dream of a New Creation. We obey this command and gift of the Savior every day of our lives as we struggle to bring about what God’s Reign will finally look like, “an eternal and universal Kingdom; a Kingdom of truth and life; a Kingdom of holiness and grace; a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.” (From the Mass of Christ the King).
We can say without doubt that working toward the ideal of God’s Reign in our time on earth is the fundamental task of our lives, and of Pax Christi. I am convinced that it gives meaning to our very existence. We are not here to do anything less than that. Vatican II put it straight out: “the Church has a single intention: that the Kingdom of God may come…” The great Liberation Theologian of El Salvador, Jon Sobrino, says, a Kingdom mentality gives us a “new understanding of the ‘already but not yet.” God’s Reign has already begun—it is not yet completed. We are the agents of the “not yet.”
When we pray “thy kingdom come on earth,” we are pledging ourselves again to continue working for the great ideals which that phrase includes. Building God’s Reign on earth happens at every level of life—from the smallest gesture of love and solidarity to the greatest of efforts on behalf of global solidarity—and everything in between.
In his Second Letter St. Peter writes of this tremendous vocation of ours: continuing and completing the promise of Jesus, Christ the King, that the Kingdom of God is in progress.
“What sort of persons ought you to be… waiting for and HASTENING THE coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:12)
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.