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Then you are a King?

By 25 November, 2018January 3rd, 2023No Comments
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By f. Luis Casasús, General Superior of the Idente missionaries
Paris, November 25, 2018.
Christ the King – Solemnity

Book of Daniel 7,13-14; Book of Revelation 1,5-8; Saint John 18,33b-37.

  1. Every human being desires to admire, praise, and be part of something greater than himself or herself. We can see evidence for this in human behavior all around us. In many contexts, there is the eagerness with which people join a doctrine, a theory, a cause a club or a political group to feel part of something important. This is why the people of Israel was not able to wait 40 days for Moses’ return from the mountain with the Tablets of the Law and they built a golden calf. This is why we also build all kind of idols with ideas, activities, persons, opinions or preferences… and we obey them.

Perhaps the first reason why we should be grateful to this manifestation of Christ as a King is that we can free ourselves from the myriads of idols we built, worship and obey.

Our heart is an idol making factory because human beings are worshipers. Human beings are lovers. We are created in love and to love. And the highest, deepest expression of love-giving is worship. On one occasion, to the ancient, classic question of a child to his father, Do I have to go to church? the wise father replied, No, you don’t have to go to church. But you have to worship. Or else you’ll die.

Part of this human behavior is the desire to be with others and in community, but it also entails a desire to adore something or someone and praise something or someone.

In our eagerness to worship something, we may choose poorly and as a result, waste our adoration on something unworthy, often near-sighted and short-lived, validating the pursuit of the moment and it cannot last, fueling the fear that there is no God that could give meaning that does last.

During Christ’s Passion, whoever looked at him with the logic of this world did not see him as a king, did not perceive Jesus’ royalty. The rulers, soldiers and one of the criminals crucified together with him did not see who Jesus really was. They were looking but they were not seeing.

Nevertheless, there was a man who saw what no one else did. Dimas, a delinquent being crucified for his crimes, understood. He was a criminal. However, he had a simple heart. That was what saved him. He saw infinite imperial dignity in a man nailed to a cross. In a powerless man, he saw the infinite power of God’s love of humankind. In the crucified Jesus, Dimas found God’s love, which brought him to Paradise: Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise (Lk 23:43). Dimas opened his heart to the deepest aspiration of every human being: true eternal life.

But, most of all, Mary was crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth because she totally followed her son and recognized His kingdom to be a real, joyful and everlasting one. We ask her intercession to obtain the grace to recognize Jesus as our King.

  1. In the Our Father we ask not only for the coming of a King, but also His Kingdom. This goes beyond our personal need for a true and merciful King. The stark reality is that usually fear rules relationships and this is bound to misunderstanding, distrust and hidden agendas. We are in constant terror of losing our power. In fact, we are afraid to even seem to be losing our power, because in the world the appearance of power (reputation) is power. Fear rules our relationships, and therefore hiding seems perfectly reasonable. The following story offers an allegory of this painful condition.

A little boy and his sister went to visit their grandparents in the countryside. He had a catapult (a sling) and he practiced in the fields but he could never hit his target. As he came back to his grandma’s backyard, he happened to see her pet duck.

Out of impulse, he took aim and let fly a shot. The stone hit the duck and it fell dead. The boy panicked. Desperately, he hid the dead duck in the barn, only to look up and see his sister watching. His sister, Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Johnny told me that he wanted to wash the dishes today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny had to wash the dishes.

Later, Grandpa wanted to bring the two children fishing. Grandma said, “Oh, I am sorry but I need Sally to help prepare dinner.” Sally smiled and said, “Oh, Johnny said that he wants to do it.” Again, Sally whispered, “Remember the duck?” And so Johnny stayed and Sally went fishing.

After a couple of days of doing the chores, Johnny became frustrated and desperate and he couldn’t take it anymore. So he confessed to Grandma that he had killed her pet duck. Grandma held his face in her hands and said, “I know, Johnny. I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. There and then, I forgave you because I love you. I was wondering how long you are going to hide the truth and let Sally make a slave out of you.”

Yes, we hide the truth, we become slaves of sin and fear and end up in tragedy. But Christ our King invites us to listen to His voice and stand on the side of truth and the truth will let us free. This is exactly the message of the Second Reading: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever.

Why do we use the terms “charity” and “vinculum” as synonyms? Because the only possible vinculum (bond) with our fellowmen is attained when we are able to love our neighbor.

This is what the kingdom of God is all about. This is what heaven is. Full spiritual joy is found when we realize to our full potential in God, when one is filled with the goodness of God and therefore living in perfect union with himself, others and with God. Of course, this is not possible outside God but in union with Him. This is not faith, but a universal, experiential fact.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from Vatican II called the Eucharist a vinculum caritatis; a bond of charity. This bond of love reveals us to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, specifying the basis of our unity and communion with one another and with Christ.

  1. This explains the striking words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. What being a king has to do with testifying the truth?

Jesus is pointing out that our unity is a gift of God. Unity is not a human creation through our efforts, good works, and intentions. Fundamentally, Jesus Christ creates that unity through His death and resurrection. For those who welcome Jesus’ kingdom, those who are willing to love unconditionally, Jesus said: You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:32). and, I am the truth (Jn 14:6). This heavenly freedom, which makes possible our unity is the true law of our nature, the rule of His kingdom.

In many contexts, including religious life, the path of unity is the most difficult. At one moment we may be content with separateness. We may feel safe and without threat. To join with another or others can have the effect that we might lose something indispensable for us. Even more, what once was loved becomes hated. This is the law in all worldly kingdoms, societies and groups, when we gather together by interests, even by shared interests. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, the quick and the slow…will separate, sooner or later, in many different forms.

His love is the bond that generates unity. This unity is the most powerful testimony to make God known in our world. And this is why doing mission by going our separate ways is contrary to the nature of the Church.

Each part of the physical body faithfully obeys the commands coming from the head, and therefore works in perfect harmony —in spite of diversity— with the other members of the body. Similarly, when we allow God to be in charge of our lives, there is harmony running throughout our communities, resulting from all the members desiring to please God. The closer our union with Christ, the closer will be our union with one another.

The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. The disciple is made complete in Christ and with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.

Just as a child alone can truly know the character of its beloved mother, and just as the deepest elements of that character, the tenderness of her maternal love, cannot be demonstrated by argument but only learnt by experience, just so only the believing and loving disciple of Christ can see into the heart of His Kingdom, and feeling, living, experiencing, discover with that “esprit de finesse” of which Pascal speaks, that is with the comprehensive intuition of his innermost soul, the gifts we have been given and ultimately, the plan of God for us: to become more like Him, in order to fully be with Him. This is, in a nutshell, the goal of Transfigurative and Tranververative Mystical Union.

A final thought on the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world.

When leaders like Pilate lack spiritual wisdom and have no norms and basis for their policies, they are led by the people instead of being shepherds, they seek to be pragmatic, go for short term gains but not looking at the long term implications for the policies that they implement.

The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pious XII during a time (1925) when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was needed most The Pope observed that many people during that time put aside Jesus Christ in their lives. And he reminded the humanity could not do anything without Christ. Only in the restoration of the empire of our Lord Jesus Christ real justice, peace, truth and love can reign…at least in the midst of our communities.

For Pilate, truth was also relative and today the problem has gotten worse. Individualism has been embraced to such an extreme, that for many, the only authority is the individual self. Some even reject the titles of “lord” and “king” for Christ because they believe that such titles are borrowed from oppressive systems of government. But, these individuals miss the point: Christ’s kingship is one of humility and service.

The New Evangelization invites us to reflect on the apostolate in societies that are multi-cultural and multi-religious ruled by a secular government. Modern apostles are called to permeate the world with the values of the gospel in the areas of culture, economics, mass media, family or education.

In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict said:

This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith on those who do not share the faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just. The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. The Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest.