Ordinary Time 34, Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C

From VincentWiki
Your kingdom come (Mt. 6:10)

I think I have lived enough years and have waited time and again for good things to happen, or for bad things not to happen, that I know the different ways I have waited and can wait.

I have waited—only as recently as eight days ago—and can wait with gnawing anxiety. And anxiety can turn into dread, and before I know it, I am an easy prey to fear-mongers and deceivers who claim, “I am he” and “The time has come.” In other words, I stop listening to reason and am guided instead by what my itching ears want to hear and by what suits my desires (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3-40). Like an infant, I am “tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” and get “carried away by all kinds of strange teaching” (Eph. 4:14; Heb. 13:9).

I have waited—though not frequently because I am usually high-strung—and can also wait like a “cool guy,” so to speak, delighted, smiling and non-threatening. Apathetic and indifferent, however, I just while away the time of waiting by being a busybody and a freeloader. I feast my eyes on the splendor and beauty that come from human ingenuity, oblivious of their fleeting character and their easy destructibility.

Even less frequently, I have waited—and would honestly prefer to wait—the way St. Vincent de Paul did. He relied on divine providence. Confiding in God, he placed himself in the hands of God as a loving father. Says Father Robert P. Maloney, C.M., in “Providence Revisited” in He Hears the Cry of the Poor (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1995):

St. Vincent is profoundly convinced that, because God loves us as a Father, he exercises a
continual providence in our lives. He writes to Achille le Vazeux: “[God] knows what is suitable
for us, and if, like good children, we abandon ourselves to so good a Father, he will give it to
us at the proper time” (SV VI, 308).

It was St. Vincent’s reliance on providence which prevented him from being irrationally nervous and cowering. But reliance on providence also made impossible for him to be indolently negligent and complacent. His achievements attested, for sure, to his hard work in the service of the poor. There was no misery of his day and age which St. Vincent did not try to alleviate in simplicity and with creativity as well. “By letting God rule his life,” as Jacques Delarue’s The Holiness of Vincent de Paul (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1960) has it, “and delivering himself to God as his instrument, the saint had discovered the infinite goodness of Providence.” He likewise discovered in the process the varied ways he could reflect effectively such infinite goodness.

This Vincentian way of waiting by letting God rule one’s life and surrendering to him is, needless to say, a commendable way of waiting for the kingdom of God. For among other things, the Vincentian injunction that one should not stop at words but should instead love God with the sweat of one’s brow and the strength of one’s arms is in conformity, in my opinion, with the saying that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor. 4:20). It is my belief too that the Vincentian commitment to the poor, along with the conviction that the poor have the true religion, only reaffirms Jesus’ assertion that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor—the hungry and thirsty, the strangers, the naked, sick, imprisoned, homeless, rejected, marginalized, persecuted, humiliated, the helpless like little children and deemed without rights—and to those who welcome them (Mt. 5:3; 18:3; 19:14; 25:34 ff). Moreover, I view the Vincentian warning regarding over-attachment to relatives to be an acknowledgment of the overriding priority of the kingdom of God and an echo of such instruction of Jesus as: “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:60). Such a warning is also a kind of admission, I think, that sitting at Jesus’ right hand or left hand in his kingdom is granted not because of parental consideration or intervention but because of God’s decision (Mt. 20:20-23). Further I suggest that the Vincentian prescriptions for missionaries’ getting along with each other ultimately point out that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:17).

Most fundamentally, however, what makes the Vincentian way of waiting for the kingdom of God truly commendable is its taking the side of the thief who asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The Vincentian way, in other words, makes one recognize the poor, suffering, helpless and crucified Christ to be God’s chosen one, the Christ of God, the king of the Jews, while others only sneer and jeer and show nothing but contempt and skepticism.

How visionary indeed the Vincentian way! It recognizes royalty in those who appear to be the worst off of the commoners even; it sees the image of the invisible God in those whose look is beyond that of man and whose appearance is beyond that of mortals; it finds promise and Davidic lineage in those who show none of the gallantry and renown of king David; it firmly believes, with St. Catherine Labouré, that God speaks to anyone approaching him plainly, simply, and in the silence that is conducive to listening, even when God does not seem to be willing to show what he wants the prayerful one to do [1]. Yet to such a visionary is given this assurance: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Today, yes, because even while we wait for the full realization of the kingdom of God and must carefully distinguish between earthly progress and the growth of Christ’s kingdom, “here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age” (Gaudium et Spes 39). Today, yes, because, though “the Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ (cf. Jn. 15:11); it is in some way the anticipation of heaven, the ‘pledge of future glory’ (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 18), the glory we await but in some way is already here, in pretty much the same sense that the kingdom of God we pray will come is also among us now (Lk. 17:21).