December 4, 2015

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Model the example of the Holy Family, true royalty

Patti LambI’m not exactly proud to say that I nearly tackled my husband recently in an effort to usurp the remote control. He was about to change the channel during a segment focusing on the royal family. Not only did I want to observe whether the television piece addressed recent rumors, but I also wanted to see what Kate Middleton, duchess of Cambridge, was wearing.

I pulled myself together and calmly explained my position to my husband. I said that when I think of royalty, my mind summons images of grandeur, perfection and the way things are in fairy tales.

Ironically, just a few days later, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King at Mass.

The priest’s homily helped me to understand my fascination with royalty. It turns out that our expectations of royalty haven’t changed much over time. Just over 2,000 years ago, when God sent his only Son to redeem this broken world, everyone expected a dominating king to come conquer and save.

Yet, in nearly every way, Jesus modeled a ruler contrary to society’s expectations of a king. Our savior didn’t fit the definition of kingship by earthly standards.

Most kings are born into grandeur, beginning with their royal births. Jesus, however, knew the reality of poverty. Our king made his grand entrance to a poor young woman and stepfather in a stable, and the only audience was livestock.

We expect kings to be proud and righteous, ruling with supremacy and commanding an audience. Our king, however, was the supreme servant. He washed the feet of his disciples. He didn’t play the part of warrior, but instead, was the ultimate peacemaker.

Kings typically travel with a royal entourage. The disciples Jesus chose, however, were poor, common fishermen. Jesus ate with sinners and wasn’t afraid to reach out to society’s marginalized, like the lepers he healed.

Most kings are respected and honored. Our king was rejected and paid homage with a crown of thorns. Then they hung him on a cross to die.

Our king knows the anguish of the cross and the darkness of the tomb.

During this season of Advent, many of us may find ourselves with hearts that are heavy or minds that are troubled. Most of us live lives that are far from royal. Maybe we had grandiose visions of all that we would be, or all that our children would be, or all that our careers or relationships would be.

But I find great hope in the message of Jesus’s kingship.

When we just don’t measure up to this world’s standards, we should rejoice. We are in good company with Christ, the King, who was also never good enough. I take comfort in the fact that we can go to him in our sinful, broken and imperfect states and find compassion, mercy and peace.

Jesus’s birth marks the beginning of the new kingdom—the one to come, the one to which all of us sinners are invited. All we have to do is answer “yes,” as Mary, our Blessed Mother, once answered on pure, blind faith alone. She said yes and trusted God, even when nothing made sense and she probably couldn’t fathom how it would all end well.

I believe that we are called to model the example of the Holy Family, true royalty. And we can do this simply by loving through tough times and serving through tough times and forgiving through tough times until we reach God’s kingdom.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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