HOMILY: OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING EF Mass 2018
On the face of it, when we look around; when we try to see things as they truly are, there does not seem to much justice evident in the world as we know it.
Eccles: ‘Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it; and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind.’
Psalm 73: ‘I was filled with envy of the proud, when I saw how the wicked prosper; look at them, such are the wicked, untroubled, they grow in wealth.’
If our horizon is limited to this world – and we take a long, hard look at how much injustice there is and always has been – we must have sympathy for the atheist, with his or her denial of God.
Pope Benedict, in his Encyclical ‘Spe Salvi’ (‘Saved by Hope’), writes: ‘The atheism of the 19th and 20th century (ie Marxism) in its origins and aims, is a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history’.
It is understandable that many have attempted to create for themselves – solely from their human resources – a kingdom of justice, in the here and now: for example, the French Revolution – or Marxism. Yet all such attempts have run into the sand and have ended in yet more cruelty, exploitation and INjustice: The Reign of Terror – the Gulag and so on.
Today’s Feast of Christ the King challenges us to look beyond this world – to see things in the light of eternity; to glimpse how Christ, who rose from the dead, is finally able to and will put right all injustices.
The Feast of Christ the King is in fact a celebration of the Day of Judgment in advance: The Day when all kindnesses that went unrecognised will be rewarded and when the misery of hardship and suffering will be overturned. It will be a day of justice and great surprises: as in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew Chapter 25: ‘When did we see you sick, in prison, hungry…?’ ‘I tell you, in so far as you did these kindnesses, you did them for me’. ‘And all you who suffered so much, I was there in it with you’. ‘Come now, and enter the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’.
Today assures us that that Day of Judgment is a Day not to be dreaded, but to be hoped for: because then all wrongs will be put right. Christ the King assures us –injustice does not have the last word!
HOMILY: OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING: 2018
Throughout the western world today, there is generally a marked lack of confidence about the future. We see this very clearly in the way so many people, if not the majority, opt to live exclusively in the present moment: for some, this takes the form of happily living on credit, juggling credit cards and often saddling themselves too with pay-day and similar loans at exorbitant rates of interest. For others it takes the form of abandoning themselves to a hedonistic lifestyle regardless of the toll this almost inevitably takes on their health or even their sanity. For many who actually get married, the marriage is undertaken only on the basis of a carefully drawn up ‘pre-nuptial agreement’ – both parties implicitly acknowledging that divorce before long is only too likely.
Another instance of this lack of confidence in the future we see in so many people’s negative attitudes about the possibility of our attaining final, absolute truth. The popular stance is to ‘sit on the fence’. I may acknowledge that this is ‘true for me’ at least for the moment – but that I may well ‘move on’ and, after a bit, change my mind about what I take to be the truth ‘for me’. It seems that so many people have no hope of knowing ‘the truth’ – final, absolute truth – and embracing it as the anchor of their life.
Today’s Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King speaks very directly to the lack of hope that afflicts our present day world. The mystery we celebrate today is above all a mystery of HOPE. Today, in our celebration, we anticipate ‘the End of All Things’, when Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, will be revealed in the sight of all as the King of creation, in triumph and glory.
For the moment, this vision of ‘The End of All Things’ is a matter of hope. And because we are so much people of our time, we find it hard to focus on and hold firmly to this vision. We are unsure of our hope, and, as a result, we find ourselves standing in Pilate’s shoes and echoing his words, as we hear them in today’s Gospel.
Pilate’s attitude, as St John presents it to us, is to ‘sit on the fence’: Jesus challenges him. And all Pilate can come up with is evasion: ‘What is truth?’ Pilate fails. He cannot or will not commit himself. He will not take his stand on the side of Truth, on the side of Jesus, the true King, the King of Truth.
What is so evident here is that to believe that Truth, final, absolute Truth, exists demands the virtue of hope. Today’s Feast invites us to renew our hope – and so to come to the Truth revealed in Jesus, the Truth that makes us free.