Building a Universe One Peace at a Time

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England has a new king. It took the death of a queen to make that happen. This proves the fleeting nature of human royalty as expressed in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 27:24):

For wealth does not last forever, nor even a crown from age to age.

Suffering is the only constant where human royalty—or even human life—is concerned. The only lasting royalty came into our lives through a crowning of thorns that introduced us to a king representing all human suffering. Sunday’s mass honors Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. A universe encompasses all things in its entirety, and our king, Jesus, not only shared with us our suffering, but taught us to relieve others of theirs.

Sunday’s first reading details the crowning of David, representing Jesus’s royal bloodline on earth (2 Sm 5:1-3). As king of Israel, David brought with him the sorrows that inspired the psalm Jesus would quote from the cross (Psalm 22:2):

My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?

But as Paul reminds us through his letter to the Colossians (Col 1:12-20), it was reconciliation, not abandonment that Jesus accomplished as king of a universe that unites heaven and earth:

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Through that fullness, Jesus also taught us to love each other as individuals, not just as a human race—even individuals with faults as deep as our own. After all, even Jesus’s royal blood line included a king who was both a poet and a murderer. But that murderer wrote psalms that not only cried out from abandonment, but for forgiveness.

We hear echoes of David’s psalms in the works of some of the modern era’s sinful poet-kings. Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley are good examples. Like King David, Jesus’s human ancestor, both Cash and Presley were royalty with deep human faults. However, like Jesus, they also became channels of divine inspiration. Cash and Presley used what they learned as flawed humans to write songs of great spiritual wisdom, touching the souls of people both in ghettos and in prisons.

The miracle of their lives and ours is that the Holy Spirit can use what’s good in humanity to raise us out of our self-immersed mire so we can then help others out of theirs. It starts with forgiveness, and for that, the King of our Universe is humanity’s best role model. Jesus forgave humanity in the most divine way–from the cross to which humanity crucified him. It’s a forgiveness he gives us not en masse, but individually–one at a time.

For Jesus, redemption is personal. It started with the repentant thief crucified next to him and continues to this very day (Lk 23:35-43). We are the continuous channels of that forgiveness, and we deliver it to each person God puts in our lives.

To paraphrase a favorite Johnny Cash song, God’s Universal Kingdom is built “One Peace at a Time.”

–Tom Andel

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