Inviting Jesus to reign in our hearts

| Father Joseph Bambenek | November 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

In the depths of most human hearts is a desire to be led by someone who loves us and can protect us and guide us in life. At the root of that desire is the often unseen longing for the love, protection and guidance that only God, the King of the Universe, can truly give. In the times prior to King Saul, the people of Israel offended the Lord by clamoring for a human king like the rest of the nations had, rather than being led directly by God. Getting what they wanted did not work out well due to King Saul’s shortcomings. Yet Saul’s failures did not prevent the Israelites from wanting another king. In the first reading for the Solemnity of Christ the King this year we hear them clamoring for a replacement king once Saul had died; pleading with David to become their king.


Recognizing this human desire for leadership, Jesus established the Apostles, with St. Peter at the head on Earth, to be the human leaders of his Church once he ascended into heaven, until he would come again in glory to reign fully on Earth as in heaven, the future event for which we long on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Jesus, in the Solemnity’s Gospel passage, and throughout the Gospels, shows us that Christian leadership is quite different from what the world teaches. Christian leaders are to love and serve, not be served, and are to do so sacrificially to the point of death. Christian leaders are to overpower others with self-giving love and mercy as Jesus did in St. Luke’s account of him promising paradise to the good thief, rather than by physical power or the sword as David would do.

The leader of our local Church, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, as a successor to the Apostles, and following the example of our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, has discerned that the best way for him to lead us, to determine a path forward for our archdiocese from what we have been through, is by doing something counter-cultural: spending two years praying and listening to God, and praying for and listening to each other through an extensive Archdiocesan Synod process.

Two years from now, on the Solemnity of Christ the King 2021, Archbishop Hebda will unveil what he has learned and the implications for the future in the form of a pastoral letter. He desires that we, through more than two years of prayerful and respectful listening, will grow in unity. Furthermore, the pastoral strategic plan that emerges should allow us as a Church to more vigorously proclaim the Gospel. Such a proclamation will, in turn, allow for God’s kingdom to come more fully here on Earth, in the 12 counties of the archdiocese, as it is in heaven, and for Jesus to reign as King in the hearts of more souls in the Twin Cities area.

During the coming months of the Pre-Synod Prayer and Listening Events and the small group gatherings in parishes in the fall of 2020 — to which all are invited, including those who have walked away from the Church in recent years — may we resemble the people of Israel by having the courage to raise our voices in prayer, that we might be led well. And may we share what the Holy Spirit places on our hearts with our God-ordained leader for our place and time, so that he may humanly lead us toward the heavenly reign of Christ the King.

Father Bambenek is assistant director of the Archdiocesan Synod. He can be reached at

Sunday, November 24
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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Category: Sunday Scriptures