The Last Judgment, Second Coming of Christ, Christ the King and Judge - by ANGELICO, Fra - from Museo di San Marco, Florence
( Click Image to Enlarge)
|A large Receding Rectangle of Empty Tombs and a Sarcophagus is seen in the bottom-half of
this picture. The complete picture extends to either side to show Paradise (Kingdom of God) and Hell (Kingdom of Satan).
Beside the Empty Tombs stand the Judged; the Saved with Radiant Heads, Joyously Exit left to Paradise; and Demons drive the
Nimbus-less Damned on the right, down to Hell. Those who 'Willingly' Chose not to Obey their Loving-God on Earth, will
'Forcibly' Obey their Hateful New Master (Satan), for Eternity in
In the upper part of the panel, Christ sits in Judgment in a Mandorla, framed by a Border of Angels. Christ is no longer the God of Mercy, but the God of Justice. On His right is the Virgin and on His left St John the Baptist. Beyond them on each side are Two Tiers of seated Apostles and Saints.
|The Kingdom of God is in the World, but not of the World. God Rules not by Physical Force in the
Conquest of Nations, but by the Conquest of Minds and Hearts by means of Divine Grace Infused by the Holy Spirit into Men's
Souls. It is a Kingdom in which Subjects Submit-to the Will of God not by Force, but Freely out of Love. We shall
not be in a Position to Work Adequately for the Spread of the Kingdom of God, unless-and-until, the Kingdom is First Established
in our own Souls. All are Subject-to God's Kingship, even though some Refuse to accept Him as King, or Submit-to Him. At the End
of Time, Christs Temporal Power will be Manifest, and all will Submit to His Rule, Willingly or not, to the Eternal Anguish
of those who Refused to Recognize and Submit to His Authority during their Life on Earth.
The Kingdom of God exists in the Supernatural Order in the Essence of Men's Souls.
The Kingdom of God is like a Seed that Grows by the Living Power within it. The Farmer merely Provides the Growing Conditions for the Seed. He Plows the Field, Removes the Rocks and Weeds, and Spreads the Fertilizer.
Once the Soil is Prepared and the Seed Planted and the Rain Falls, the Farmer can Sit-back and Patiently Await the Harvest, because the Power of Life within the Seed goes-to Work.
It is not the Farmer’s Labor that Produces the Crop; it is the Living Power in the Seed. The Farmer could Plow and Harrow and Fertilize, but there would be no Fruit if there were no Seed in the Field. The Rains could come, the Sun could Shine, the Soil could be Rich in Nutrients, but Nothing would Grow if there were no Seed. The Seed is Essential. It is a Power of Life, a Living Power.
That is how it is with the Kingdom of God. In Baptism, God plants a Life-Giving Power within us, and that Power of God in us Produces the Kingdom in us.
A Farmer can Plant many Different Kinds of Seeds. The Type of Seed determines the Type of Fruit. Corn Seeds produce Corn; Pumpkin Seeds produce Pumpkins, Orange Seeds produce Oranges, etc..
What does the Divine Seed planted by God in our Hearts produce? It Springs-up to Everlasting Life. The Divine Seed is the Power of God’s Life in us, and the Full Fruit of this Seed is Eternal Life, a Fullness of God’s Life in us; and that Fullness of Life is Intimate Union with God. It is Intimate Friendship with Him in Overflowing Joy. Such is the Kingdom of God.
The Power in a Seed planted by the Farmer is ready to Burst-forth into New Life. When all the Conditions are Right, the Seed Germinates, the Life within the Seed Springs-up, it Breaks-out of the Hard Shell of the Seed, it Thrusts itself up through the Soil, it even Pushes-aside Stones and other Obstacles, it climbs into the Sunshine and reaches up towards the Sun. It Blossoms open wide to receive the Sun’s Embrace, and in that Embrace, the Plant grows to Full Fruitfulness. The Seed has within it a Natural Desire for this, a Natural Thirst towards its Full Growth.
So too the Kingdom of God, the Seed of Divine Life planted in us, is a Natural Desire for God. It is a Power within us that reaches-out to receive God’s Loving Embrace. Just as the Seed hidden-in the Earth longs-for the Sunshine and reaches-up through the Soil to receive the Sun’s Embrace, so the Seed of Divine Life planted in us in Baptism, longs-for God and reaches-out for Loving Union with Him.
Saint Paul expresses this Ardent Longing for God in today’s Second Reading. Just as the Seed buried in the Earth longs to break-free from the Soil to reach-up to the Sun, so Paul feels the Weight of his Earthly Body, which still keeps him from Final Perfect Union with God. Paul writes: "We know that while we dwell in the Body we are away from the Lord. We walk by Faith, not by Sight. (I repeat) we are Full of Confidence and would much rather be away from the Body and at Home with the Lord" (2Corinthians 5:6+). Paul is Ready to Leave his Body behind in Death so that he can be with God.
Such Ardent Desire for God, such Burning Love for Him, which cannot wait to be with Him, is the Fruit of the Seed of Grace planted in us by God. The Holy Spirit within us, the Spirit of Love, causes us to cry out, "Abba, Father!", as we reach up to God to Receive His Eternal Embrace of Love!
Such Small Beginnings, but such Marvelous Fruit! A Tiny Seed grows into a Great and Fruitful Tree.
The Word of God you hear each Sunday in the Liturgy may seem like a very Tiny Seed, the Holy Communion you receive may seem like a Tiny Seed, but think of the Tremendous Power of Life these plant in you!
Wait Patiently for the Full Fruit. The Full Fruit is your Overflowing Joy as you
Jesus was very Reluctant to admit that He was a King. He does not Deny that He is a King, but that is not a Title he would have Chosen for Himself.
Why doesn’t Jesus want to be called "King"? For the same Reason, He did not like the People to call him "Messiah". It was because those Titles were Open-to Misunderstanding. "King", or "Messiah", meant One (1) Thing to the Jews, still Another Thing to Pilate, and still Something Else for Jesus.
So when Pilate says to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33), Jesus asks him, "What do you mean by ‘King of the Jews’?". That is really what Jesus is asking when He asks Pilate, "Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about Me?" (John 18:33).
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I?". "Your own Nation and the Chief Priests handed You over to me" (John 18:35). In other words, by “King of the Jews”, I mean what the Jewish People mean by it. What do the Jewish People mean by “King of the Jews”?
The King, the Jews were looking forward to, was called the “Messiah”, that is, the "Anointed One". They expected that this Messiah would Restore the Kingdom of David. To do this, of course, he would have to Destroy the Rule of the Romans, represented by Pilate.
The Ones who turned Him over to Pilate did not Accept Jesus as Messiah, or King-of-the-Jews. But in Insinuating-to Pilate that Jesus Claimed to be Messiah, King of the Jews, they were suggesting to Pilate that Jesus was a Dangerous Rebel who would lead a Rebellion against Rome. If they could convince Pilate of this, of course he would have to Kill Jesus.
That is why Jesus, therefore, First has Pilate Clarify what he means by "King of the Jews". Does he mean what the Jews mean? The Jews were looking forward to a Political, Military Messiah. But Jesus insists that He is not that. He does Reluctantly admit he is a King, but not that kind. He says, "My Kingdom does not belong to this World. If My Kingdom did belong to this World, My Attendants would be Fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews" (John 18:36). In other words, I am not a Political, Military Messiah. If I were, my Followers would defend Me by Military Force. "But as it is, My Kingdom is not from here". Thus Jesus tells us what kind of a King He is not.
Pilate therefore says, "Then you are a King?", that is, "What kind of a King are You?"
Jesus answered, "You say I am a King" (John 18:37). This is like saying, "You are the one who brought the word ‘King’ into this conversation. Well, if you insist on calling Me King, I will accept that Title only on condition that you accept the New Meaning I give to the Word ‘King’". This is what My Kingdom is like: "For this was I was born and for this I came into the World: to Testify to the Truth. Everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to My Voice" (John 18:37nn).
Thus Jesus is not an Earthly King; not a Political Leader. His Whole Mission is to Testify to the Truth It is as Revealer of the Truth that Jesus is King. He Manifests the Truth in His Whole Being: by Who He is, by how He Lives, by what He Says, by the Works He does. He has His Origin in another World. He has no other Purpose in this World than to Bear Witness to the Reality of the other World. In His Word and Testimony, God Manifests His claim on Humankind.
Thus Jesus Rules where His Truth is Accepted. Everyone who belongs to the Truth “Listens to My Voice” (John 18:37). Jesus speaks only "What He has seen and heard with the Father" (3:32; 8:26). This Truth sets People Free; it brings them Salvation. "You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you Free" (8:32). "If the Son Frees you, then you will be Truly Free" (8:36).
The Whole Ministry of Jesus on Earth is to Bear Witness to God, Who turns to the World in Love and Desires our Salvation. "For God so Loved the World that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have Eternal Life" (3:16).
This, then, is the Truth to which Jesus Bears Witness: the Truth that God Loves the World. That Love is the Only Solution to Human Misery. God is King of the Hearts that Accept that Love. Jesus Rules where that Truth of Love is Accepted.
"Everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to My Voice" (18:37). To belong to the Truth is to Belong-to God. Somewhere else Jesus said, "Whoever belongs to God hears the Words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not Belong to God" (8:47).
“You are trying to Kill Me, a Man who has told you the Truth I heard from God” (8:40). "You cannot bear to hear My Word", because, "You belong to your father, the Devil, and you willingly carry out your father’s desires" (8:43-44).
"Whoever Belongs to God, hears the Words of God" (8:47).
To Belong-to the Truth, then, is to Belong-to God, and therefore to be under His Kingship. "Everyone who belongs to the Truth", says Jesus to Pilate, "listens to My Voice" (18:37).
Jesus Himself is the Embodiment of Truth. He said, "I am the Truth". As Word, He is the Revelation of God. "No one has seen God; the only Son, Who is ever at the Father’s Side, has made Him known". He makes God Known by everything He is, everything He says, everything He does. His Death is His Supreme Testimony to the Truth, the Supreme Revelation of God. For His Death Reveals that God is Love: "God so Loved the World that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16).
This Person Jesus, the Gift of God’s Love to the World, is the Supreme Testimony to the Truth.
"Everyone who Belongs-to the Truth, Listens to My Voice" (18:37). To Belong-to the Truth is to Belong-to Jesus, for He is the Truth.
Those who Belong-to the Truth are the Sheep given-to Jesus by the Father. They are the Believers who Listen to His Voice. The Sheep hear His Voice as He calls His own by Name and leads them out …. "My Sheep hear My Voice; I know them and they follow Me" (10:27).
Jesus Rules as King where His Voice is heard,
In order to Belong to the Truth, one has to Give-self to the Truth; one has to Give-self to Jesus, to be His own. To Believe in Jesus is to Give-self to Him: it is to Yield one’s Whole Person to Him, to Belong-to Him. Those who Belong-to the Truth are the Sheep given-to Jesus by the Father.
They have the Ability to Recognize the Truth: "My Sheep hear My Voice". The very Faith by which they yield themselves to Jesus, to Belong-to Him, gives them a New Power to Penetrate the Deeper Meaning of the Truth. They see all things in a New Light, the Light of Jesus Who is "the Light of the World". Because they commit themselves to Him in Faith, He is the Light of their Consciences. By His Light and Spirit, He Forms their Hearts to Grasp the Truth. They see the Truth by the Inner-Light of His Presence in their Hearts. They see by His Love in their Hearts which gives them Insight into the Things of God.
If we Consistently Neglect, or Ignore, or Disregard the Truth brought by Christ, this is a Sign that we are "not of God", "not of the Truth", not Committed-to Christ, not Surrendered-to Him Who is Love, not His Sheep.
There is a Whole World of difference between those who are in the Light of Christ and those who are in the Dark. It is Truly Astonishing how Blind some People are, how Lacking they are in Moral Discernment. For example, they cannot see the Evil of Abortion or Premarital Sex or Cheating in Business or Marriage, and of many other Evil Things they do, because they are not of God. [They Compromise Truth.] They Rationalize because they are not of the Truth. They are not Committed-to Christ the Light. They belong to their Father, the Devil, the Father of Lies, and he has Deceived them into Thinking that the Evil they do is Perfectly all-right. They are "People of the Lie". They are not in the Truth, they are not in Him Who is the Truth, and so they Walk in Darkness. It is a Fearful Situation to be in. Christ is not their King.
But everyone who Belongs-to the Truth, everyone who has Accepted Christ as King, has the Light of Life. He hears Christ’s Voice with Understanding and Acceptance.
Even though Christ’s Kingdom is not of the World, it is in this World. The Kingdom of God is present in those People who Listens to His Voice and Subject themselves to His Guidance. One Listens to His Voice, His Specific Instructions for Living in this World, only because one has First heard Him as the Truth Itself, and has Subjected-self to Him in Faith. His Kingdom is not of this World, but it is not shut-off from the World. It Manifests itself in the World wherever His Voice is heard.
And even though Jesus was not a Political King, or an Earthly King, His Kingship on Earth has Political Relevance, because His Truth in our Hearts has Social Consequences. It changes our Whole Viewpoint on Political, Social, and Economic Life. His Truth Guides all our Relationships and Dealings with others. It makes them all Relationships in Love. Love becomes our Motivation in all we do, and Love is our Activity. [As People of Truth] we always do the Loving Thing; and His Truth in our Hearts shows us what the Loving Thing really is.
This little scene in Today’s Gospel in which Jesus explains to Pilate the True Nature of His Kingship is only One Scene in the Whole Drama of Saint John’s Story of Our Lord’s Passion and Death. John presents the Passion of Jesus as the Revelation of Christ the King. "Behold your King!" is what Saint John is saying.
He begins the Story of the Passion with the Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, riding on an ass. John tells us, "Behold your King" by Quoting for us Words of Zechariah the Prophet, "Behold your King comes, seated upon an ass’s colt". He does not come on a Warhorse as a Military or Political King. According to Zechariah the Prophet, He comes as a King of Peace, Universal Peace.
This King of Peace Reigns from the Cross. From the Cross He Gives his most Eloquent Testimony to the Truth: He Manifests that God is Love; He so Loved the World that He gave His only Son.
When He is Lifted-up on the Cross, He Draws all People to Himself. He Wins the Hearts of all by the Power of God’s Truth, the Power of God’s Love, the Truth to which He Bears Witness by the Gift of His Life. His is "an Eternal and Universal Kingdom; a Kingdom of Truth and Life, a Kingdom of Holiness and Grace, a Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace".
Let us Take Care now to Renew our Consecration