Did you hear about the lady who was having a birthday? That morning, at breakfast, she told her husband that she had a dream. In that dream she was wearing pearl necklace. She said to her husband, “I wonder what that dream means. I wonder what that dream means.”
The husband quickly said, “You will know by this evening.”
That evening when the husband came home from work, he handed his wife a nicely wrapped package. Excitedly she opened it. There it was. A book titled, The Meaning of Dreams!
Today is the feast of Christ the King. Would you like to be a king or queen someday? Actually you can be more than a king or queen. In the words of John Milton, “He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.” A powerful thought to start with.
We all remember hearing about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Just for a moment imagine Jesus as a modern King Arthur, and his first task is to choose his knights, his followers.
What kind of people would Jesus gather around himself to assist him in running things? What kind of qualifications would Jesus look for? Here is my list of the qualities I think Jesus would look for in his Knights. I list them in alphabetical order.
1) Compassion. Jesus’ inner circle would have to be people sensitive to human pain, sensitive especially for the poor and powerless, the hungry and homeless, migrants and refugees. Jesus was always reaching out to people like this.
2) Love of the Earth. If a person wanted to serve on Jesus’ staff, that person would have to respect and care for his Father’s creation. Striving for clean air, clean water, protection of the environment, and the preservation of beauty – all this is basic when you love creation.
3) Generosity. Jesus told his disciples that, if you want to be first in his kingdom, you must serve the rest (cf. Mark 10:44). You can’t be grabbing for yourself if you are serving Jesus.
4) Respect for all human life. If a person wanted to follow with Jesus, that person would have to respect all human life from conception to natural death. Life in the womb is precious to Jesus, born of Mary. We remember that John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb at the Visitation of Mary. Abortion and physician assisted suicide would be contrary to reverence for life. In the words of Pope Francis, “Human life is always sacred, valuable and inviolable. As such it must be loved, defended and cared for.”
5) Loyalty. Every leader wants people who are loyal, committed. Jesus would want people whom he could trust to stand by him and with him. We know the apostles didn’t do too well on Calvary. But after Pentecost, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they turned out to be a most loyal band of followers, faithful unto death by martyrdom.
6) Mercy. On the cross Jesus forgave the good thief as well as all those who crucified him. Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The spirit of forgiveness reigned on the cross, and must reign in our hearts.
7) Devoted to Peace. On Calvary Jesus experienced first-hand human hate and violence. He came upon this earth to bring the opposite. His followers would have to have the same dedication.
8) Teamwork. Teamwork is important in order to get things done. That means everyone working for Jesus would have to have patience and know how to cooperate. That makes for a successful team, as it makes for a successful family, a successful parish, and a successful world.
9) Devotion to Truth. Jesus said to Pilate, “I came into the world to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus wouldn’t tolerate people in his inner circle who were liars. Everyone telling the truth… Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?
Compassion. Love of the Earth. Generosity.
Respect for all Human Life. Loyalty. Mercy.
Devotion to Peace. Teamwork. Devotion to Truth.
These are the qualifications that Jesus would look for.
On this feast of Christ the King, we look inward and ask ourselves, “How qualified am I to be a follower of Jesus?”
Jesus of course has no desire to be an earthly king. He tells us that His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom has no land, no boundaries. His kingdom is of the spirit. All people are his people. He wants to reign over all hearts.
He is asking us to unite our minds with his mind, to join our hearts with his heart, and to bond our wills with his will. Then we can say with St. Paul, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). That means Jesus is our personal king, reigning over our lives.
Most likely none of us will ever be a King or Queen or President of a country. Few will make it to be a CEO of a company, or Chairman of the Board.
But know that we are always King, Queen, and CEO of our own life. We reign over all that we say and do. Like King Solomon, we pray for the wisdom to do it right, remembering the words of John Milton, “He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”