Fr. Charles Irvin
Solemnity of Christ the King [A] 2011
2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43
If there is no divine being above us we will be consumed by all that is around us. If Christ in His kingship is removed from our lives we will be at the mercy of any and all forces in this world that are more powerful than our own powers.
In the world of philosophers those who reject God or the reality of God are known as nihilists who claim we exist in nothingness. What we think to be real is, they claim, only a construction that we have made in our own minds.
The problem with nihilism is that it leads to anarchy, the complete loss of order in a world that they view to be essentially irrational. Tyrants come to power and thrive in such a world view.
Our nation’s Founding Fathers recognized the threat and grip of tyrants when they wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our human dignity, our rights and our freedoms come to us not from any President, or Congress or Supreme Court; they come to us from God our Creator. No king, ruler, president or potentate confers our basic human rights upon us. Perhaps that concept does not seem to be very bold to us today, but it was the foundation of our Declaration of Independence, the beginning of what back then was known as the American Experiment. Experiment? Yes! What our Founding Fathers asserted back then was radical because people in the rest of our world were governed in those days by kings, dictators and totalitarians who ruled as if people were their possessions, as if their subjects belonged to them and not to God. Even now there are those in our world who despise our American democratic ideals.
The situation today was not much better in the early 1900’s, a time when World War I had been fought and the Treaty of Versailles, while ending that war, had at the same time laid the groundwork for World War II.
Let me fast forward now to the year 1925. Germany was in economic ruin. In 1924 Adolph Hitler published his book Mein Kampf. German National Socialism, Nazism, was gaining power. It advocated radical nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.
Other dark storm clouds were gathering back then in the year 1925. Atheistic Communism was sinking its roots into Russian soil. Totalitarianism and secularism were on the rise, seeking to dominate entire peoples. The leaders at the top of all of these political systems hated the Catholic Church while at the same time the intelligentsia in the Western World also disdained Catholicism.
So it was in that context on December 11, 1925 when Pope Pius XI, a very well educated and intelligent man, established this Solemnity of Christ the King for the entire Catholic Church to be celebrated throughout the world at the end of the Church’s liturgical year.
We all recognize, of course, that there are dark forces surrounding us in our day. Radical Islamic terrorists seek not only the elimination of the State of Israel, they hate our American culture as well. The events of September 11, 2001 clearly reveal that. Furthermore they seek to subject the whole world to the will of Allah as they interpret it in their holy book, the Koran and Sharia Law.
And we have our own internal “isms” to deal with as well – materialism, consumerism, and secularism, to name the chief ones.
As Christians we claim Jesus Christ to be our King. We place ourselves under His kingship because we believe that with His power we can establish His justice and peace among us. But in order to do so, Christ relies on our freely chosen allegiance. He relies on our willing cooperation and He relies on the gift of our very lives and souls in order to reveal His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. That kingdom is found in the way we relate to the people we find in our lives. It’s realized, made real, in our personal relationships.
This is the way it is in Christ’s kingdom. If Christ’s kingdom is to be revealed here on earth, made real in our world as it is in heaven, we must work to make it so. Do we expect God to be a “Big Daddy” and give it all to us without any effort on our part, in spite of our indifference, neglect and even our rejection of him? That would be childish nonsense. That would be foolish presumption. That would be arrogance on our part, namely the expectation that God will do it all for us anyway, even though we pay scant attention to Him and give Him little, if anything, of our hearts and souls.
My first words to you in this homily were: If there is no divine being above us we will be consumed by all that is around us. In other words if Christ is not our king then the principalities and powers of this world will rule us. We will have sold out to them, sold our hearts and souls for the cheap glitz and glitter of fool’s gold. If God is not our Father and Christ is not our king when we shall have our own gods and goddesses — and they will give us nothing. In the end we will have betrayed ourselves and lost our citizenship in the everlasting kingdom of God. Who are the gods and goddesses that our culture presents to us? What have they given us in return?
Christ is our King so that the powers of this world cannot hold us in their grip. Our freedom is found in “the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God.” If Christ is not our king then we will be consumed by all that is around us.
In a few moments we will pray the words of the Preface for this Mass. In that Preface we can find Christ’s mission statement. His mission statement of Christ is also our mission statement:
As king he claims dominion over all creation,
that he may present to you, his almighty Father,
an eternal and universal kingdom:
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.
This means that we must be a people of truth, a people who protect the dignity of life in all of its forms. We must be a people liberated from the seductive lures of this world and who live fully in God’s gifts to us. We must be a people of justice, who love others without self-interest, and who work for peace.
How easy it is to say those lovely words! How hard it is to truly live them! But that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? For we know that with men and women living and working on their own it is impossible to live out those ideals. But with God, with Christ as our King, all things are possible. He was crucified, died, and rose from the dead to hand over His Spirit to us in order that, in the power of His Holy Spirit, we might eventually reveal His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.