Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

This Day in Paradise


King!  King of the universe!  King forever!  Living in a democracy where our temporal leaders are elected to govern for a given period of time and with various checks and balances on their powers, we sometimes fail to grasp the full implications of what a kingship means (or at least what it should mean).  And too often, we think of rulers who abused their earthly power or sought wealth for their own coffers at the expense of their poor.  Yet true kingship is a servant of the people they govern.  They are invested with great authority and power, but that is because they also shoulder a tremendous responsibility – the health and well-being of their people and stewardship of the lands of their kingdom, and to protect them from any threat, whether from within the kingdom or from would-be invaders, even to the sacrifice of themselves in battle.

Look at the Gospel reading for today (Luke 23:35-43).  Jesus is mounted on the Cross, bruised and raw from the beatings and scourging, stripped of His clothes and near death.  He’s classed with thieves – there is one on either side of Him.  His disciples have abandoned Him.  People are sneering at Him.  He has a crown…of thorns.  Above him hangs a placard which reads, “This is the King of the Jews.”  The cross has been made His throne.  Look and see the king of the universe.

Saint Paul considered this scene and recognized, with Dismas, the good thief, that Jesus “made peace by the blood of His cross”, that He was truly king and desired to be a part of His kingdom.  God the Father set us free from the powers of darkness and “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.”  We are called to share in His kingdom, to rule with Him.  But first He must rule in us.

So what keeps you from fully submitting to His rule?  When we scratch below the surface of our sins and motivations, often we may find fear- fear of pain and suffering and a desire for pleasure.  Are you afraid of being unloved?  Dishonored?  Abandoned?  Humiliated?  Despised?  Rebuked?  Suffering pain?  Lacking necessities of life?  Being ridiculed?  Wronged?  Gossiped against?  Abandoned?  Unnoticed?  What do these fears lead you to do (or not do)?  Dominate, manipulate or bully others?  Be overly timid and shy away from challenges or potential conflict?  Lose your temper?  Eat or drink more than is healthy for your spirit or body?  Gossip?  Waste time and escape life with trivial games, social media, television or movies?  Become a workaholic?  Escape into romance stories, pornography or other activities, using others to seek emotional or physical gratification?  Put your own needs and desires before others so you won’t have to suffer want?  Become sad at another person’s success or a bit smug when they fall or you outperform them?

Now, look at the cross.  Look at Jesus on the crucifix.  He faced your fear there and it is nailed to the cross with Him.  He was abandoned.  He was dishonored, unloved, rejected and despised.  He faced unfathomable pain.  He was slandered.  Hungry, thirsty, naked on the crucifix, He shows us our greatest fears – He showed us where sin leads us.  And He conquered.  He is now king over all, in Him all things are reconciled for Him.  When we offer our fears, our sins, ourselves just as we are, to Him at the foot of the cross, the cross becomes not an instrument of fear, but of love.  It is a throne from which He first governed and which we are called to embrace with Him.  He takes our fear, our sin, and gives us love – life in Him.  But we must first embrace our cross and follow Him.  Then, we have the hope, joy and peace that His promise will be fulfilled – we shall reign with Him forever in Paradise.

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