| 2 Samuel 5: 1-3 | Colossians 12: 1-20 | Luke 23: 35-43 | 34 Ordinary C’13 (Christ the King) |
Scripture Readings: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe Lectionary: 162
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 11.24.2013
Stop! * On this last Sunday of our liturgical year, we are asked to “stop” and look again at the man on the cross, the one his accusers called “King.” In 1924, the Bishop of Rome — Pius XI, was negotiating with the Mussolini government, hoping to settle a dispute between the Italian government and the Vatican. He established this feast of Christ the King. Now situated at the conclusion of our liturgical year, this feast prompts us to recall what it means to be Christ-bearers.
We pride ourselves on being “a Christian nation.” God and country may go together. Then again, they may not, and often do not -our claim to be a “Christian nation” as measured by the life and teaching of Jesus, whom we name “the Christ.”
Jesus of the gospels was about service, not domination. He neither called himself “king” nor
acted like one.
He was a man whose love was unconditional. In the face of hatred and violence he remained true to his own character and teaching. He modeled for us what unconditional love is like. It is our privilege to be “Christ-bearers.” To be such means imitating him and bringing his transforming spirit into the world of the 21st century.
I direct your attention to a 1973 decision of the United States Supreme Court. In that decision, the Court voided the anti-abortion laws of Texas and Georgia. This homily is not about abortion. I refer to that decision because it provides a platform or backdrop for us to recall what it means to be a Christ-bearer.
In response to that decision, our Catholic bishops issued a clear, radical statement. They declared:
“we reject this decision of the Court. … Whenever a conflict arises between
the law of God and any human law, we are held to follow God’s law. No one
is obliged to obey any civil law” that conflicts with the law of God.
At that time the leadership of our Catholic Community proclaimed: “We shall not, we cannot obey laws or policies of our government that deny or are in conflict with the life and teaching of Jesus!”
“We shall not, we cannot obey.” If that sounds negative, “stop” and look again at the man on the cross, the one his accusers called “King.” Our bishops wrote those words forty years ago because they appreciated our shared privilege of being Christ-bearers.
If we claim to be a Christian nation while our drones cause innocent casualties, and great suffering; if we claim to be a Christian nation while destroying essential infrastructure and the natural environment; if we claim to be a Christian nation while keeping suspected terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo or enabling the government of Israel to keep Palestinians locked in tragedy; if we claim to be a Christian nation while refusing to provide health care for the least among us; then either we have to pretend that we as a nation are like Jesus, or acknowledge that we as a nation neither accept his teaching, nor imitate his life.
When we who are “Christ-bearers” are confronted by violent laws and/or policies that “are in conflict with the life and teaching of Jesus,” “we shall not, we cannot obey.” Our nation desperately needs people like us who are committed to love without condition.
In his life style and teaching, Francis, the new Bishop of Rome seems to get the message. Malala, the 15-year old Pakistani shot in the head last year for organizing girls to seek education, seems to get the message!
If you get the message, then “stop!” Reaffirm your responsibility to imitate Christ. Be a “Christ-bearer!” Bring his transforming spirit into the world of the 21st century. The cycle of violence in which our nation is trapped will be transformed by the spread of unconditional love through us.