By Kathy Horan
The end of another extraordinary year is drawing closer and our daily lives are occupied with the things needing to be completed for this year, along with thoughtful preparation and planning for the year ahead.
There is a lot of reflection on the year that has almost ended, lessons to be learned, hopes for the new year to be identified, acknowledgements to be made and goals to be set. Somewhere in the middle of these two strands, we continue with the day-to-day round of activities.
As Catholics, we are also steeped in the rhythm of the Church’s liturgical year, a rhythm that sees us remembering and acknowledging key moments and experiences in the life of Jesus who came among us as a human being, who called people to join him in his mission of proclaiming the good news of the reign of God.
The Reign (or kingdom) of God was no earthly kingdom. It was not to be a temporal kingdom peopled by those who would seek power, prestige and fame by talking up their own self-importance and inflicting hardship, suffering and oppression on the poor.
Rather, Jesus revealed to the people of his time a God who desires to be closely involved in human history, who has a special tenderness and care for the poor, a God of justice, mercy and peace. The Reign of God is characterised by peace and fellowship among people, the inclusion of all, respect for the dignity and worth of each person, and loving kindness expressed in service of one another.
When we celebrate the feast of Christ the King towards the end of our liturgical year, we acknowledge the true kingship of Jesus. When questioned by Pilate, Jesus claimed to be a king – though not of this world. Jesus came to announce the truth that God’s reign was imminent, and those wishing to be part of the reign of God must be willing to be of service and to announce the good news to others.
When we are baptised, we are welcomed into the community of faith and the community of God’s Reign. By reason of our baptism, we, too, have a share in proclaiming God’s Reign in our world. As missionary disciples of Jesus, our role is to model our lives on Jesus’ life and to be faithful to the Lord, who, in truth, is our king. We are called to remember, through our sacred stories and traditions, that we are part of the Reign of God, that God continues to act in us and is present in our daily lives. Our baptismal call as missionary disciples is to live by the truth and witness to God’s care, shown in person in the life, ministry and death of Jesus.
We do this by gathering with the community to praise and thank God when we come to celebrate the Eucharist. When we take time out for personal prayer, we reflect the practice of Jesus when he retired to a place of solitude to spend time in prayer with God.
There are opportunities for outreach and service in our communities that reflect the values of the Reign of God and Christ the King. Our young people are among those who witness to our need to care for the earth and support the least advantaged in our world. The Reign of God is among us, but not yet fully realised. We see traces of the Reign of God when we take notice of people being faithful to God, being of service, sharing hospitality and friendship, supporting those in need, showing kindness and witnessing to the values of Jesus.