The Return of the King
There was once a king who ruled over a vast and beautiful kingdom. This king had a daughter whom he loved and treasured more than anything else. One day the king and his knights had to leave the safety of the castle and travel to distant lands, fighting distant wars, to protect his kingdom. As much as he wanted to take his daughter with him he knew it would be too dangerous, but he promised her that he would return.
The king was gone for a very long time. So long, in fact, that evil men rose up, captured the castle and enslaved the people and the king’s daughter. Every day she looked out the window waiting for his return. The days seemed to get darker and finally the sun did not rise at all and the kingdom was in darkness for three days. On the third day a small light could be seen on the horizon. It grew until it lit up the entire kingdom. And there on the castle steps stood the king. Tired and gaunt from many battles, wounded in his hands and feet, but still his face was bright with the brilliant smile of love. As he held his daughter he told her “there is no longer any reason to be afraid, our enemies are defeated and I will never have to leave again. We are safe forever.”
It has been said that mankind has only ever had one problem; we want to be like God. Which is another way of saying we have trust issues. We do not trust in the goodness of God. The Catechism tells us that all sin is grounded in disobedience toward God and lack of trust in His goodness.
Perhaps it is difficult for us to trust God because we find it difficult to trust other people. We have all been disappointed in misplaced trust. We all have friends, family, or loved ones who have let us down when we were counting on them. As a result we are wounded when people we trust fail us in matters big or small. And to avoid being wounded again we begin to build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. The problem is that those walls can keep God out of our hearts as well.
We know that we can trust God because God has proven to us that He is trustworthy. When our first parents chose to disobey God, they lost the grace they were created with. Their act of disobedience changed their very nature. They were no longer fit to walk with God in paradise. From them we have inherited our fallen nature.
But even then, in the very beginning, God promised us that this would not be a permanent state. God promised that He would send a savior who would free us from the darkness of corruption and the enslavement to sin.
A Promise Fulfilled
Today, on Passion Sunday, we recall the Passion and death of Our Lord because it is through these events that God has fulfilled His promise to us. The suffering of Jesus Christ won for us a definitive victory over sin and hopelessness. We bear palm branches today as a symbol of that victory.
Our relationship to God is always spoken of in terms of family and covenant. A covenant is different from a contract. A contract binds two businesses into a single enterprise. But a covenant is a family bond. A marriage for example is covenant between two families.
In the 1997 romantic comedy “Fools Rush In,” Alex and Isabel rush into marriage for a number of reasons. They soon find out that marriage involves much more than just the two of them. In Alex's case, he comes home from work to find that his new extended family has redecorated his spartan home as a “wedding present.” Both Alex and Isabel have to deal with their new in-laws in ways that disrupt their lives and cause them to examine what they really want from life.
The history of our relationship with God is a series of covenants. And with each covenant, God's family increases. From Adam, to Noah, to Moses, to David, God's family grows to include a greater number of people. Through Jesus, God establishes a new covenant that, potentially, encompasses the entire world. In this covenant God has promised that he will never abandon us. No matter what we do, if we are willing to turn back to Him, He will always be ready to receive us in mercy, and forgiveness, and love. If we reject Him, scourge Him, crown Him with thorns, betray Him and crucify Him, He will continue to love us.
When we trust in God He will transform us into the person we know we should be.
This week ahead is unlike any other week of the year. This week lets us renew our trust in God. It is our trust that lets His truth heal our wounds and renew our lives. Let us reach out to our wounded brothers and sisters. Through our words and our deeds let us be living images of Christ’s Passion to those around us. Let us shoulder our neighbor’s burdens, bear their crosses, and speak openly of Christ and the meaning of His Passion.
Let us carry our palm branches everywhere we go and celebrate the victory of Christ’s love.
"Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king has come."
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com