Jesus looked at His accuser, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
I can’t count the number of times I sat in courtrooms awaiting judgment, wondering what injustice would be brought upon my children and me next, confused by what was happening and the fact that no one wanted to hear my side, frightened by the man who had claimed to love me so deeply only a short time before, concerned for the children I was now solely responsible for, children I’d have to feed and clothe and help with homework and cart around to practices and Scouts and religion classes, children I’d have to teach to be real, Honest, Strong, Faith-filled, Hopeful Loving Men, children I’d have to teach how to treat a Woman while I was being so badly treated myself. How could I do that?
Materially, we lost our house in foreclosure. We relied on family and friends for help to pay mounting attorney bills and then were forced to settle when my ex refused to pay his court ordered share. Local Churches and Pastors and private anonymous Good folk deposited money into our mailbox providing us with food and heat to supplement the firewood my boys and I chopped and hauled in from the backyard. Our elementary school provided Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. The local hospital provided Christmas presents.
I’d always had an A credit rating.
More painfully, I’d always been the one to help people,
I’d always been the one to give.
And my pride took a beating.
What had happened to bring us to this point?
How could the decisions and actions of one man and the other woman have such devastating consequences on innocent bystanders? How could I lose everything I had spent years building so quickly? What had happened to my world?
It’s impossible to put into words the devastating consequences of divorce, the feelings of loneliness, rejection, worthlessness that last for years, not to mention the sheer financial hits and physical exhaustion that comes from parenting alone. It’s easy to fall into the pit of self-pity and think you’ve lost everything.
But that’s not the end of the story, and we see this clearly in Sunday’s Gospel.
Jesus too must have felt that rejection. We feel innocent and cruelly accused, rejected for wrongs that aren’t really so bad in the scheme of things, and abandoned for others who put their own desires above children who desperately want and deserve a loving, united Home, but the truth is none of us is innocent in the failings of our Marriage.
We may not have deserved the treatment a heartless, self-centered spouse gives, but each of us did things, said things, thought things over the course of our dating and married relationship that we would change if we were truly the people our Father created us to be.
None of us is God. None of us is perfect.
But Jesus was.
And the injustice He must have felt, the confusion, the concern He had for His brothers and sisters forced to continue life on this earth without Him must have been great.
Jesus truly was innocent, and in His innocence He found some Peace.
Evil cruelty could take away all He had that was of this world – even His life.
But it couldn’t change who He was.
It couldn’t change where He was truly meant to live
not just for today, but for eternity.
My kingdom does not belong to this world.
We too are called to live eternally in Heaven
where Justice prevails,
where Love abounds and never leaves,
where Hope is unnecessary because Hope has been fulfilled.
When the day to day struggles of court battles and child custody, financial devastation and job loss, concerns about housing and childcare, survival and inner turmoil about who you are, who you are meant to be, and where you will end up threaten to overtake you, remember
You Are Not Alone.
Your kingdom does not belong to this world.
You are Blessed.
You are chosen.
You are royalty.
And, by keeping the Faith, by striving to Love when Love seems impossible, by doing the next right thing, by asking and offering forgiveness when forgiveness is the last thing you want to offer, by not sinking to the level of those who choose foolishness over Goodness, you will find your Home.
And for the rest of eternity you will know the fires of Hell that nip at you in these days have left no ugly scars but have refined you and made you shine. You will know that these struggles made you more beautiful and provided an amazing testimony for those who watch you perhaps without your even realizing it.
And when you are called Home, you will see this was just the conditioning you needed for the journey.
Be in the world, not of the world. You are being called to share an eternity in Your Savior’s Home.
Remember Jesus’ words,
My kingdom does not belong to this world.
And neither does yours.
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