“From where I stand,” a phrase that describes the angle from which I look out at any situation – and this point of view makes all the difference in what I see. It touches on the meaning of the feast which ends the Church’s year, Christ The King. When this King is exercising his Kingship where does he stand and what does he see?
“King” conjures up the peak of the pyramid, the high place above it all gazing down at those below. Gathered there are the nobility, the privileged, richest, and most politically influential. Farthest down are the nobodies, people off in the margins. And from the king’s heights, he hardly notices.
What is the location of the King we know as Our Lord, Jesus Christ? It’s on a cross. From there, what is he likely to see?
He views the world from the vantage point of his impending death. Surrounded by jeering people and cynical persecutors, he prays they be forgiven rather than condemned, “They know not what they do.” There are those two thieves, one of whom curses him. But with almost his last breath he reaches out with a consoling word.
This King on his cross is looking up from the bottom and from there sees all the other forgotten ones. He takes in the world but from his distinct angle of first last and the last first. In this position, his eyes lock onto the suffering and dying, the misunderstood and put-upon, the persecuted and cast aside — a very different kind of King, focusing on a very marginal world.
With Christ the King, we celebrate this suffering and compassionate Sovereign. As his followers, we would look out at our world through his eyes and take it in from his angle. The authorities nailed a mocking poster just above his head, Jesus Christ, King of the Jews. Christians would explode its meaning, widening and deepening it to take in all people and all creation, but especially the forgotten. We would follow him out onto that same sill and next to him there take in the world as he sees it. Especially as Vincent’s Family would we resonate with this perspective.
There’s a still more basic answer to the question where God stands. It’s here in our midst, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God in Jesus sees through human eyes, feels with a human heart, reaches out with our hands.
There’s a line in a poem by Jessica Powers about standing on a ledge that catches this feel for “God’s location.”
“I have climbed up out of narrow darkness onto a ledge of light.
I am of God; I was not made for the night.”
It is on that “ledge of light” we stand with this King, the Lord Jesus. From that angle we look out at his creation, especially into its most hidden corners.
Tags: McKenna, vincentian spirituality