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O Rex Gentium

Julian Paparella

Thursday, December 22, 2022

King of all nations,
source of your Church's unity and faith:
save all people, your own creation!

Our poverty meets God’s poverty

“Jesus is King of all nations.” We can ask the question: Is Jesus really the King of the nations? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? What about countries and societies that aren’t Christian? 
Today let us take a fresh look at this ancient Advent prayer and ask ourselves: What kind of King is Jesus? And what exactly is His relationship with “all nations”? 
There is a word that sheds new light on these questions: poverty. Especially in developed countries, where we often take our high quality of life for granted, poverty can seem like a foreign reality that is best kept at a distance. Indeed, who would want to be poor? 
And yet poverty is part of being human. Whether we are materially rich or poor, our lives are marked by poverty in one way or another. Not only by the homelessness we see on the street or the ads for donations that we see on TV or the internet, but by what each one of us experiences on a day-to-day basis. We may prefer to hide our poverty, but it is there, nonetheless. We are not able to deeply satisfy ourselves. We are in need of love, meaning, belonging, hope, healing, and salvation. These are things that we cannot buy at the store or order online. We cannot procure them for ourselves, we must simply open ourselves to receive them from God. This is what unites us as human beings. Whether we are outwardly poor or not, all of us share this inner poverty. This is by no means a reason to despair, but rather a sign of our need for God. And the Good News is that God comes to satisfy our need for him in abundance. 
Luigi Giussani has said that the protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ’s heart that begs for ours, and our heart that begs for Christ. Likewise, Matthew Kelly has written that a Christian is a poor man who knows where to find bread. Our call therefore is to show others where to find it! Every human being shares this same hunger: what makes the difference is the ability to recognize that we are indeed deeply hungry – and to allow ourselves to be filled.  
It is Jesus who comes to fill our poverty by making Himself poor. This is the way Jesus lives out His Kingship, the truth of His power. He was not born in a palace, but in a manger. He did not ride around in a carriage but rode a humble donkey. He did not receive a state funeral but was brutally executed as a criminal. 
Incredibly, God makes himself poor to come and fill our poverty. This is the mystery of Christmas. God becomes human to make us divine. God empties Himself so that we can be filled. Advent is the opportunity for us to see our poverty, and to open ourselves more and more so that God can fill us. Let us have the courage to see our poverty, and the humility to let God come to meet us right there where we need Him most.
Jesus, King of the nations, may your royal poverty fill us and all the peoples of the earth. Open us up in our poverty to encounter you in yours. Amen.

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