Sunday, November 23, 2014

How do we exalt Christ as King? Here are three ways (Sunday homily)

We might wonder, why do we have this feast of Christ the King? 

This solemnity was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. 
And it helps to understand the times.

For some time, the trends in society 
had been to denigrate the Church and the Catholic Faith. 
A few years before, the most powerful nations 
had all been drawn into the slaughter of the First World War. 
And in the wake of that war, extreme movements were taking hold: 
communism, fascism and militarism.

And so the pope sought to remind the world who its true king is. 
As the pope said, “all men, whether collectively or individually, 
are under the dominion of Christ. 
In him is the salvation of the individual, 
in him is the salvation of society.”

Ninety years on, the situation has only worsened; 
Today the Church is caught between the anvil of secularism 
and the hammer of radical Islam. 

On the one hand, we have supposedly free societies – 
including our own – where more and more people 
are being shamed and harassed and punished 
because they believe what Jesus Christ teaches 
about marriage and family. 
People are losing their jobs. 
Business owners are being fined by government, 
forced to shut up or shut down. 

It is likely to get worse before it gets better.

On the other hand, in many places you and I are witnessing 
a ruthless effort to exterminate Christians in the name of Islam. 
Thankfully there are some efforts to stop it, but not much.

The need to accept Jesus Christ as king is as great as ever!

So what does that look like?

The starting point is our own lives. 
Is he king over how I use my time? My money? 
Over my eyes, my hands, my words? 
Do I use my body and talents according to his laws—or my own desires?

The truth, of course, is that I’m still fighting the battle in my own life; 
and most likely, so are you. 
The great tool we have in this is the sacrament of confession. 
When you and I bow our egos and bend our knees in the confessional, 
We renew our loyalty to Jesus, not vaguely, but concretely – 
in my life, today, right now.

Second is what happens in our homes. 

There’s no rule that says 
you and I have to have a crucifix or an image of Jesus in our home; 
but I can’t understand why we all wouldn’t want that. 

Personally, I want an image of Jesus or Mary in every room. 
I have a crucifix over my computer and a statue of Mary over my TV. 
They help me remember.

As you may know, there is a nice tradition 
of enthroning the Sacred Heart in our homes; 
I’ll put something in the bulletin about that next week 
for anyone who is interested. 

And at the end of Mass, 
I invite you to join me in an act of dedication to the Sacred Heart – 
the prayers are already in your pews. 

There is a plenary indulgence given 
for reciting this prayer on this feast, 
which also calls for going to confession and receiving holy communion, 
and offering a prayer for the intentions of the holy father, 
which we’ll do as well.

But what best shows Jesus as king in our homes 
is how you and I treat one another. 
When our homes are places of prayer, forgiveness and peace, 
Christ reigns – and people will want what they experience in us!

Finally, we lift up King Jesus with the difference we make in the world. 

The Gospel gives us a powerful measure: 
how we treat those who are least and easily forgotten. 
If Jesus were accepted as king of this world, 
there would be no one hungry or naked or forgotten; 
but as it is…our world is rather different.

This weekend many of you made casseroles to feed the hungry. 
And I think we’re all aware of a lot of generosity 
that happens without a lot of fanfare. 

Meanwhile, there are a lot of us who, in various ways, 
are trying to promote alternatives to abortion 
and to protect unborn children. 

Still, I think what many of us feel, 
when you and I look at so many problems in our society, 
is that we are overwhelmed. 
How can we fix it all?

But take heart! That’s not what the Gospel talks about. 
You and I don’t see the Lord saying to anyone, 
“well done, you solved the whole problem.” 

Instead, we see Jesus commending those who did what they could; 
and condemning those who passed by.

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