Discerning God's Dream
I’ve been Catholic for about eight years, and one of my favorite parts of my journey into the church has been learning about the various feast days that we celebrate throughout the year. Today, not only do we mark the end of the liturgical year, but we also celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.
The feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 with his encyclical Quas Primas ("In The First") to counter the growing nationalism and secularism of his time. By instituting the feast, the pope hoped that the faithful would be reminded that no matter the polarizing difficulties we face in the world, Christ reigns as king forever. And as children of God, we are heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a key theme in Jesus’ ministry, and he preached about it frequently. Jesus describes the kingdom in several ways: the kingdom is within us (Luke 17:21), those who are persecuted for righteousness will inherit the kingdom (Matthew 5:10). In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, we are given insight into the other-worldliness of the kingdom. When Pilate asks Jesus about his kingship, Jesus says, "My kingdom does not belong to this world" (v. 36).
In the Kingdom of God, the ways of the world are flipped upside down: those made poor become rich, the meek inherit the earth, the outcast is welcomed. As Christians, we strive to be kingdom people, but our finite existence means we don’t always get it right. However, that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. When speaking about the kingdom today, Pope Francis urges us to be dreamers of God’s dream. In his homily on the Feast of Christ the King last year, the pope urged us to focus on what’s important:
Dear young people, dear brothers and sisters, let us not give up on great dreams. Let us not settle only for what is necessary. The Lord does not want us to narrow our horizons or to remain parked on the roadside of life. He wants us to race boldly and joyfully towards lofty goals. We were not created to dream about vacations or the weekend, but to make God’s dreams come true in this world.
When we get overwhelmed by the divisiveness and violence in our world, we will do well to recall that as Christians, our eternal hope does not rest on the shoulders of government officials or world leaders. Our hope rests in Christ Jesus, who by his life taught us how to care for others and act on behalf of justice and whose resurrection showed us that even death could not stop the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.
As we prepare our hearts to enter to begin a new liturgical year, what might we do to bring about the kingdom of God in our daily lives? How might we be dreamers of God’s dream?