ON LOVE AND FEAR

November 20, 2022 — Solemnity of Christ the King

A Sunday Reflection from the Gospel of Luke (23:35–43)

By: Bro. Sean Cass L. Alvarez

I still remember the crystal clear day of November 20, 2018, when we, the seminarians of Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary, joined the people of Baguio who flocked and gathered at the Baguio Athletic Bowl to attend the celebration of the feast of Christ the King. The opening words of the bishop as he opened his homily would always linger in my mind whenever I would remember the feast. “Every time we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, we would always see two images of Christ: Christ covered in glory and the crucified one.” Remembering these words, I cannot help but ask the question – “how did the King of glory end up crucified on the cross?” His golden crown was replaced by a crown of thorns. The majestic robe with hundreds of wounds and a small piece of stained cloth with blood. The scepter with nails. The glorious seat with a cross made up of wood. 

In movies themed with feudal settings, more often than not, the plot would revolve around a good-natured ruler that would be dethroned by a villain who would rule the kingdom by establishing a system different from the predecessor. Then the protagonist would make his comeback at the end. These villains would be ruling their subjects by instilling fear through power. This very characteristic, though villainous in films, has become a trend in our modern day. Many people tend to look strong and competent because they do not want to be labelled as weak or maybe they fear being looked down upon. Some of them try to show to others what they are capable of not because they want to help them but because they want them to feel inferior. In like manner, a few made themselves kings by their own rights. Kings shaped by fear and who instill fear in their subjects in order to gain control. 

Christ’s kingship is very different from the realities mentioned above. How? Because He rules with love. It is not by selfish power but by love that He governs. It is the very reason why He, the king of glory, ended up crucified on the cross. It is because of that love that He accepted the crown of thorns. It is because of that love that a majestic robe was exchanged for hundreds of whippings. It is because of that love that He patiently carried his cross towards calvary. 

In the lens of the Aristotelian golden mean which states “in medio stat virtus” (“in middle stands virtue”), Christ’s action would be very vicious and foolish since His action of love was at very extreme. But this is only in the human and natural standard measurement because with Christ’s action, which is already a supernatural one, that which is or any act whatsoever in the middle is simply mediocrity. “The measure of love is to love without measure,” says our father St. Augustine.

It is because of this unconditional love that the Word was made flesh. In one of the most quoted lines in the Bible, it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Knowing this, why do we need to fear if we know that He loves us? Going back to the question above, “How did the King of glory end up crucified on the cross?” I realized that the cross was not the end of Christ the King but His very triumph. He led by example because it is love at the very heart of his commandments.

 Let this love of Christ outgrow the fear in our hearts. Let the love that we received and is continuously receiving from the King be shared. Let this love be the very motor of our actions. If Christ died for us out of love, what hinders us not to live in His love?

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