Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.
Who breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing. – Psalms 146:3-4
This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, celebrating the authority and lordship of Jesus over all of creation and marking the end of the liturgical year. Falling just before the all-consuming holiday season and the secular New Year, this feast provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what holds mastery over our hearts before the avalanche of turkey and tinsel. And since it specifically celebrates Chris’s kingship, it takes on special relevance in the aftermath of a contentious election.
This God-man is the same Jesus who was born in a stable; who grew up a carpenter’s son; who ate with sinners and challenged authorities; who said to His followers, “This is my Body; take and eat;” who suffered humiliation and torture to die on a cross; who rose from the dead and ascended to heaven; and who sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in these latter years. This is the same Jesus about whom Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) and Thomas said, “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28).
Reflecting on, of all things, a line from the old song Remember the Alamo: “Young Davey Crockett was singing and laughing/With gallantry fierce in his eyes/For God and for freedom, a man more than willing to die.”
Freedom like that — courage and even joy in the face of persecution, destruction, and death — does not come from politicians, legislation, constitutions, or economies. It comes directly from God. It is not freedom from, but freedom for, and it can only be taken away by the Devil. Only he can bind us, and only if we let him.
Make no mistake, we are free men and women. This next week, and next four years, can only change that if we allow it.
Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful morning.
It’s another beautiful day today. We are blessed by God with life and liberty — may we be as free as that song lyric: free to laugh in the face of power, danger, and death, knowing these things cannot touch our inner mystery: that we are made in His image, out of love and for love.
I’m not suggesting armed conflict is coming, but reminding us that we are always — always! — free to do what we think is best. We may suffer for it, but suffering in this life is expected and temporary. And as the Catholic evangelist Mark Hart says, even when our legs shake, the rock upon which we stand will not be shaken.
Take courage, whatever happens. You are free, unless you yield it up yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I avoid the news like the plague. No matter the source, the media today is a place of constant conflict, and it’s easy to get caught in the ceaseless spin cycle and feel as though everything is falling apart around us. It’s easy to lose the perspective that we are in this world, but not of it. And once we lose that perspective, it’s easy to lose hope.
But as Catholics, our hope is in God and transcends this world. Specifically, our hope is in a personal God, who loves each of us enough to become like the least of us: wriggling and helpless in a Bethlehem stable; hungry and homeless on the road to Egypt; hard-working and cash-strapped in the wood shop in Nazareth; hounded and criticized by His own people; persecuted and abandoned by those who should have known and loved Him best. Jesus’s perfect and total Yes to the Father finally silenced the steady drumbeat of Nos that had echoed through the ages since the fall of Adam and Eve. He lived, He died, He rose again—we know this through the words of the prophets, the witness of the apostles, and the blood of martyrs. Never before have so many sacrificed everything—their very lives!—for so outlandish a claim as a God-Man who let himself be humiliated and slaughtered only to rise again from the dead. Who would die for such a thing? If you had any doubt in your mind, would you give your life?
Thousands of people have, from Jesus’s day to the present. We believe far more these days on less credible evidence, and yet we’re skeptical of this?
When the apostle Thomas encountered the resurrected Jesus in the flesh, his famous skepticism was transformed—he declared, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus replied, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”
That’s us: believers in an unseen Christ. Blessed are we who persist in the faith.
Of course, as Catholics we still encounter the living God, just not by sight. We encounter Christ in His Body, the Church, and in the sacraments—particularly the Holy Eucharist. We know that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus by His own words: “This is my Body…This is the cup of my Blood.” Jesus is God, and just as in the Creation story, what God says, is.
This is Good News—the Best News, in fact, and we are obliged to share it. It’s not enough to just accept Christ’s mercy and grace, or receive His Body and Blood. We are called to be disciples: not dependants, and not simply students, but followers, who learn, live, and spread the Gospel. No one encounters God without changing, and indeed Jesus says whoever wishes to be His disciple must pick up His cross and follow. If we are unwilling to change our behaviors and priorities; to work, suffer, and die for the sake of the Kingdom, we are not yet full-fledged disciples.
Why should we care? Because it takes disciples to make disciples. We can’t lead others to Christ if we aren’t following in his footsteps ourselves. Fr. Mike Schmitz reminds us that Jesus gave us one job to do while He is gone: go and make disciples of all nations. When He comes back, it won’t matter that the car is waxed; the laundry, folded; or the recycling, sorted. He’s going to look around to see if we did that one thing. Our hope demands change.
Blogger’s Note: This article appear in the Sunday, July 19, parish bulletin.