Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The REAL Kingdom Of God


A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce. He asked her this question: "What are the grounds for your divorce?" She replied, "Well, about four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property with a stream running by it." "No," said the judge, "I mean, what is the foundation in this case?" She said, "I don't know. I guess it is made of concrete, brick, and mortar." 

The judge said, "No. What are your relations like?" And she says, "Well, I have an aunt and an uncle living here in town and so does my husband and his parents." The judge began to get frustrated and he asked, "Do you have any real grudge?" And she said, "No, sir. We do not have a garage.  We have never really needed one." The judge again asked, "Please, is there any infidelity in your marriage?" And she said, "Yes. Both my sons and daughters have stereo sets. We do not necessarily like the music they play. But the answer is yes. There is infidelity." "Ma'am, has your husband ever beaten you up?” She said, "Yes, about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do." Finally, in frustration, the judge asks, "Lady, why do you want a divorce?" And she said, "I do not want a divorce. I have never wanted a divorce. But my husband does. He says he cannot communicate with me."


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Sometimes it all does come down to that. A lack of communication, right? When we are talking about the same thing, but we are clearly on two different pages. We have that breakdown in communication in today's Gospel. 

Jesus and Pilate are both talking about kingship, but they are completely miscommunicating. They are on different pages. Pilate's idea of a king is completely different than what Jesus' idea is of what makes a king. What Pilate thinks makes a kingdom is a completely different view than what Jesus views as a kingdom and what makes up a kingship.

We hear this almost comic scene laid out before us. Both comedy and tragedy. When Pilate says to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He is asking Jesus, "Are you the King?" In Pilate's mind, a king is somebody that has power and control over the Jewish people. Pilate is asking Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews? Do you have control of this group of people?" And Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?" Jesus says it because He knows people are talking about Him. Jesus knows that people are talking about these great things that He is doing. Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and chief priest has handed You over to me. What have You done? What have You done that they want You to be killed?" Jesus knows that all He has done is reveal the truth. All He has done is revealed who God is and who He is.

Jesus realizes they are not talking about the same kind of kingdom or the same kind of king. He says, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it did, My servants would be fighting to save Me. As it is, My kingdom is not here." Pilate thinks he has Him. He says, "Well, then You are a king. You are saying You are a king." Again, they are miscommunicating. Then Jesus says, "You say I am a king, but My kingdom does not belong of this world. It is a completely different kind of kingdom." Pilate is thinking of a king who rules with power, who rules with control, who rules with domination, and who rules with wealth. It is a different kind of kingdom that Jesus is talking about.

As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we are living in this world where we have terrorist attacks. We are living in this world where we want somebody to protect us. It has even been said we want someone that is going to wipe out ISIS. We want someone that is going to take care of all of the evils in this world. We do want that. The reality is, that protection, that kingdom of God, does not come about through violence. It does not come about through control. It does not come about through manipulation or wealth. It does not come about through Earthly power. It comes about, ultimately, only through love.

Evil is a great force in the world. It is a powerful force. The only force more powerful than evil is love.

In the Gospel, we hear this miscommunication. Pilate is trying to find out if Jesus is a king. And by that he means, do you have power? Do you have control? Do you have wealth and authority over these people? And Jesus is saying that is not what it is about. His kingship is a kingship of love and a kingship of mercy. Ultimately, His throne was the cross. This was the throne where he ultimately became King.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took on all of evil. In that moment, evil was conquered. Evil was destroyed. And He did it with love. He did it, ultimately, not by power or by control or by violence. He did it by laying down His own life and by being crucified. In that moment, evil was conquered.

So often we miscommunicate with God. For thousands and thousands of years, God has been trying to tell us His Kingdom is a kingdom of love and mercy. We take that message, and somehow or another, we distort it. We think it has to do with control, power, authority, and wealth. It does not. Ultimately, for us, the only way evil can be conquered is with love.

The Kingdom of God is so far different than the kingdom of Earth. On Earth, we rule and power by control. Heaven is ruled by power by mercy and love.

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. and next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. We begin the Year of Mercy. The Holy Father has declared that this whole year is to be focused on the Year of Mercy. We will discover that during this Year of Mercy, real authority, real power, the real Kingdom of God is brought about, not by violence, not by control, not by paying back somebody else, but by mercy. I just want all of us to think about that for one moment. Think about mercy in our lives. Is there anything that you are wanting to control? Anybody you are wanting to overpower? Anybody you are wanting to kill or smite out? Ultimately, that is not the way of God. That is not the building of the kingdom. It is only built with mercy and love.

Think about that right now. Is there anybody that is oppressing you? Is there anybody that you have been oppressed by, or are you oppressing anybody? Right now, maybe for you, that is the fear of terrorism. Right now, maybe that is oppressing you. Maybe right now that fear is oppressing your heart. The only thing that can conquer fear is love. Maybe it is somebody in your own family. Maybe it is your own spouse. Maybe there is manipulation and domination. Again, marriage is supposed to be loving. It is not supposed to be dominating and one party holding power. It is supposed to be love. Ultimately, we do confuse the two. There is a miscommunication. Just like the joke at the beginning of the Homily. Sometimes we misunderstand God and sometimes we miscommunicate with each other. That is where violence and sin comes from. But ultimately, He wants to build a kingdom of love.

May we truly enter into this Year of Mercy with hearts that are open to love. With hearts that are open to this kingdom, which is a totally different kingdom than we can imagine on Earth. It is not built on power. It is not built on wealth. It is not built on anything but love and mercy.

I was watching the television show “20/20” the other day. They were interviewing Donald Trump. Trump is the epitome of success, right? He is the one percent. They were showing his penthouse. It is a $100,000,000 space in New York City. From all around, you can see all of New York City. Everything is laced in gold. It was designed after Versailles to look like a beautiful palace. During the interview, Mr. Trump was asked this question: "If you were made President of the United States, what would it be like for you to ‘downsize’ to the White House?" For most people, moving into the White House is like a dream come true. You are moving into this palace, this wonderful mansion. But what would it be like to downsize? Donald Trump was asked the question, "Do you think you would be successful? Are you successful?" As he looked around, he had the camera man look around. He said, "I think I would consider myself pretty successful.”

Look at all of the gold and all of the opulence. However, that is not what the kingdom of God is about. The kingdom of God is not built on wealth, power, or control. It is built on love and mercy. It is so different from what our world sees as successful. As we come to the end of this liturgical year and enter into this Year of Mercy, may we truly allow God to rein in our hearts. May we allow the communication to be true communication where His truth, the truth that He came into the world, is that He desires to build a kingdom of love and a kingdom of mercy.

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