I suppose this as good a day as any to admit this: I am a secret royal watcher. On July 29, 1981 at the age of eight, I excitedly arose early from bed to watch the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. Sixteen years later on September 6, 1997, I arose early from bed again, only this time to join 2.5 billion others in the world as we mourned the death of the beautiful young princess with whom the world had fallen in love. Fourteen years after that, again I was up early, streaming on YouTube the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
To the rest of us, The House of Windsor represents material wealth, the ultimate social positioning, palaces, horse-drawn carriages, ladies-in-waiting, butlers, not to mention global fame. During Prince William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton, I watched the entire 1,900 member congregation in Westminster Abbey sing God Save the Queen, while the Queen herself remained tight-lipped, and I remember thinking, “How unfathomably odd it must be for her to be Queen.” Unfathomable to us, but I think this is part of the allure for those who cannot watch enough royal documentaries or read enough royal biographies.
In the way that he does, Jesus turns our earthly concept of royalty downside-out. Once a refugee, here we have a young man who traveled by foot (or donkey) to meet and socialize with folks on the lowest rungs of the social ladder. The sickest and most reviled, the poorest…all the people no one else would talk to. He empowered and nurtured them spiritually not by proselytizing, but with a message of such astonishing good news that we are still talking about it two thousand years later. He surrounded himself with friends he just picked up along the way…normal folks who were inspired by him to do something great. And when he was executed, it was not the death of a hero, but an excruciatingly painful death reserved for slaves or the worst class of criminals. It was a death that was shameful to his friends who could not imagine their God dying on a cross like a slave or criminal, and yet there he was without royal carriages or a state funeral.
When asked by Pilate if he was King of the Jews, Jesus responded by saying “My Kingdom does not belong to this world,” and of course Pilate was not on the same page as Jesus. All this time later I sometimes wonder how recognizable we would be to Jesus as followers of his way.
Office of Youth Faith Development
Archdiocese of Moncton