“O Rex Gentium”: O King of the Nations,
and the one they desired,
the keystone who makes both peoples one,
come and save mankind,
whom you shaped from the mud.
The Jewish people had always wanted a King, and in Isaiah, the prophet describes the coming Messiah as a King with a difference. Consider:
- “For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
- “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
The divine King of the Nations is not like any other monarch or political head of state. I particularly love the line that our King is “desired by the people”; Kings were rarely determined by the desires of their subjects! But our King is our Desire, our ultimate desire, a King that fills every longing, every need, every emptiness. The King establishes a reign of peace, a world that no longer even LEARNS about war. What a new way of thinking about things! This “novus mentis habitus” had been sought by many recent church leaders, including all of our popes from John XXIII to Francis. Pope Francis writes:
What is called for is an evangelization capable of shedding light on these new ways of relating to God, to others and to the world around us, and inspiring essential values. It must reach the places where new narratives and paradigms are being formed, bringing the word of Jesus to the inmost soul of our cities (Evangelii Gaudium, #74).
As disciples of this new Messiah-King, we find ourselves in the midst of these new “narratives and paradigms.” How can we best enter the story?
What new ways of relating to God am I being called to? How are we nurturing that relationship? Prayer, study, service? What new ways of relating to others am I being called to? And what new ways of relating to the world around us? Where, specifically, in our communities, are these “new narratives and paradigms” being formed? In our inner cities? In agriculture, family farms and migrant worker camps? On our campuses and businesses? How do I share in forming those new narratives?