Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Do you remember a time when you were unaware, and more importantly, indifferent, to who occupied the highest political office? Do you remember when you learned that there was such a thing as a President? Do you remember having no emotional attachment to the office or the man who occupied it? Once upon a time, the fact that we had a leader was a proposition to which we were entirely indifferent. Wasn’t that a great time? Eventually, we grow up and begin to take notice of the world around us and we experience an emotional investment in office holders, personal opinions about policies, and a desire to choose our leaders. That there are leaders we do not choose is not always something we consider until we watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail and meet Dennis, the Constitutional Peasant who objects to King Arthur calling himself king. “I didn’t vote for you” can become an excuse to reject a leader or intellectually disengage when one or another person attempts to speak with authority.
All things in balance. I can confidently stand with Dennis the Constitutional Peasant and say that real executive power comes from a mandate from the masses and that strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. At the same time, I can recognize that there is such a thing as King Arthur (or, for our purposes here, kings and presidents) whether I have voted for him or not. I can intellectually assent to the concept of a leader whose authority is not something that I give, but rather something to which I am subject.
When we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we are not celebrating an earthly kingship or a king who is anything like our earthly leaders and authorities. We are celebrating One whose Kingship, objectively, does not require my favorable vote, but subjectively does need my personal election. Jesus Christ is King of the Universe. He is Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Prince of Peace. I did not ask Him to save me from my sins on the Cross, but He did anyway. I did not ask Him to take authority over the powers of sin, evil, and darkness in the world, but He did anyway. Now, the good news is that Christ our King knows and understands our need to participate in His authority, to choose Him for ourselves. Unlike King Arthur who unjustly represses Dennis, thereby revealing the violence inherent in the system, Jesus comes to us in humility. He presents us with His love and mercy and allows us to say yes or no. He speaks to us of His desire to know us, to be with us. So great is the longing of God for reconciliation and union with humanity that He takes on our human flesh, approaches us in a non-threatening way as a child, and teaches us with gentleness and goodness. The invitation to draw near is constantly being offered and is for us to accept and affirm with grateful hearts.
This week, we will be joined by Fr. Louis Merosne, a priest from Haiti, who will give us a pre-Thanksgiving and pre-Advent mission. Starting at 7 PM on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, we will be invited to draw near to the Eucharistic Jesus and encounter the fullness of His authority and lordship. Fr. Louis will help us to see how the Lord desires to be with us, how he satisfies the deep longings of the human heart and brings fulfillment to our lives in a way that no earthly king or power can. In his talks, Fr. Louis will also show us how our very acceptance of Jesus’ presence as our King leads to our sharing in His kingly, priestly, and prophetic ministry of mercy. Please join us in this special mission and time of prayer. A plenary indulgence can be obtained by participating in a parish mission, and there is no better time to obtain this special grace than at closing of a liturgical year as we look forward to the opening of a new year of grace.