Homily: Disciples of Christ Have to Live by a Higher Standard
Today is the last Sunday of the Liturgical year. This is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Gospel brings out an interesting scenario. First, notice Jesus is between the Romans and the Jews. He is between the most powerful force at the time on the Earth and the People of the creator of the universe. He is in between both. Daniel Harrington in his commentary on John for the Sacra Pagina series points out that he essentially is moved between these two powers until he is finally returned to the Jews through whom he is lifted up.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this reveals the blindness of so many players but God allows this blindness to enact his plan of salvation.
Jesus is speaking to Pilate who asks him if he is a king. Now do not forget the irony here. Who is Pilate, he is the representative of the Emperor of Rome. Pilate asks him if he is a king? What kind of king is not subject to the emperor Rome? Very few of them and here is Pilate who knows nothing about Jesus and asks if he is a king.
Jesus responds that his kingdom is not of this world. There is no evidence that Pilate understood what Jesus actually meant. I am sure he would have understood Jesus as meaning, his kingdom is not of the Roman Empire. We as hearers to this Gospel are in the audience watching the whole thing and we have an insight into what Jesus says. We are also here acknowledging that we are members of this same Kingdom.
But what does that actually mean?
If we are members of the Kingdom of God what rules do we follow and how do we follow those rules while living in the United States of America? We are seeing a growing hostility to religion and a growing marginalization of religion in our country. Remember none of this happens without God’s permission. However, it may force us to live more deeply in the Kingdom of God while we are living in the United States. This means we must embrace the Kingdom by the means established for us so that we can show the kingdom to those around us. This requires a commitment to daily prayer.
How do we do this? We embrace our king with prayer. We may be going through difficult times in the future which we can do if we encounter Christ every day in our prayer. Our role is to embody the kingdom of God to those around us especially in these times and in the future. This means we must internalize a different set of laws than what we find ruling our country but laws that our country does not prohibit.
What am I talking about? You know that we as Catholic do not believe in freedom of speech. We should only speak in ways that reflect that we are Christ’s disciples. In the United States, we are free to say anything we want, as Catholics we are exhorted to say only that which builds up others and leads them to Christ. This does not mean we walk about sounding like zombies, but it does mean we do not use our speech to tear people down, to promote an idolatrous agenda like loyalty to a party over loyalty to the common good. The same with freedom of the press. Larry Elder on Salem Radio recently pointed out that much of the violence in this country came from false narratives. Catholics have a duty to report only the truth objectively. If you are not doing that you are disobeying the laws of the kingdom.
Let’s look at the major trial last week. The question was asked over and over again whether the person broke the law when he shot two men which he said he did in self-defense. The question people bantered about is was it legal. Let me ask you if it was Catholic? Was it in accords with the laws of the kingdom? If you came to me and said you were going to enter a place for civil unrest to help people, I might go with you. However, I would tell you to leave your AR-15 rifle at home. It may have been legal for him to carry the AR-15, but it was not in accords with God’s Kingdom. It is one thing to go hunting with such a weapon, it is another to carry one in an urban area especially under such unrest.
Others brought out the men deserved to die because there were criminals. A great article I read on Medium highlighted that this same form of thinking entered the Weinmar republic and set the stage for Germans killing Jews on the street in NAZI Germany. It became a nationally sanctioned act to engage in such actions. As Martin Luther King taught, none of what the NAZIs did was illegal.
However, do we have the right as Catholics to carry an AR-15 into civil unrest? We may have the right as Americans, but do we have that right as Catholics? Some Catholics even reject self-defense.
We represent a different set of laws through our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Everything that is legal in this country does not mean it is acceptable in what we do. It is no secret that we as Catholics do not believe in abortion. It is legal in the country but we do not consider it legal within our role as Catholics. However, if we take that same standard then we need to look at it across the board. Jesus did not give us a set of laws to follow, he taught us about how to be. He called us to represent the Kingdom of God this is a higher standard.
If someone comes up to me looking for money, in a T station. Many people will avoid them. If they come up to me I generally consider it my duty to engage them anyway.
St. Augustine described our law as simply—love and do what you want. If you are loving that when you want to do will always be correct in the Kingdom of God.
The Our Father calls us to unite our will to God’s will. If we are to do what Christ called us to do, we must unite our will to God’s will. This means we do not want to do our will in a situation, we want to do what God wants us to do. Sometimes that can be frustrating and painful. Sometimes we must be on our knees in prayer begging God for the grace to do his will if it is so much against our will. However, when we do that we are acting as members of the Kingdom of God.
I do know that being in the Kingdom of God is a risk and it can be dangerous to your well-being after all pit was to Jesus well at least until he was resurrected. However, if we care to do the will of God it is not that we must expect to encounter a risk, but rather we must expect to embrace it fully. This is what it means to carry your cross. This is embracing the Gospel and it is showing the world your truth.
Are we being good citizens of the United States or are we demonstrating to the world that the Kingdom of God is real?