My mom called this morning and told me about the homily she heard at Mass yesterday evening at a church near Austin. The message spoke about how we, as Americans, have opposed the concept of being ruled by a tyrannical king (hence the Declaration of Independence). Over 200 years have passed since our independence from the British monarchs, and we still have a “you’re not the boss of me” mentality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that our independence from the British was a bad idea (Besides, have you tried their mushy peas? yuck.) In light of the celebration of Christ the King, it’s interesting to look at how we, as Americans, view the idea of a “King” ruling us. Just look at the Power of Pride bumper stickers that are on so many cars. Look at what the Proverbs say about pride:
Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes dishonor,But with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction,And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Proverbs 21:24 – “Proud,” “Haughty,” ” Scoffer,” are his names,Who acts with insolent pride.
Proverbs 29:23 – A man’s pride will bring him low,But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
So, why would American Catholics take part in the declaration that Jesus is our King? Unlike the monarchs during the 18th century, Christ seeks our good above His. He laid down His life for us. Following Jesus as our King does not lead to slavery, but to freedom. As Pope Benedict reflected in his homily today in St Peter’s Square, (emphasis added)
“It is not that of the kings and great of this world, it is the divine power to give eternal life to free us from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of love, which knows how to derive good from evil, soften a hardened heart, bring peace to the bitterest conflict, turn the thickest darkness into hope.”
“This kingdom of grace cannot impose anything, and always respects our freedom,” he added. “Christ came to ‘bear witness to the truth’, as stated before Pilate. Whoever receives his testimony, comes under his ‘banner,’ according to an image that was dear to St. Ignatius of Loyola.”
“Choosing Christ,” the Pope concluded, “does not guarantee success according to the criteria of this world, but ensures that peace and joy that only He can
I emphasized the statement about Christ’s inability to impose anything. So many times on these forums & blogs people complain about a group imposing their beliefs on others. Let me ask a question – when you’re driving today and stop at a stop sign before an intersection, why did you do that? A red octagon “imposed” the traffic laws’ beliefs on you that it is proper to stop at the intersection. Beliefs are imposed upon us every day of our lives. We just don’t want to listen to many of them.
Which brings me to Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. Today on the front of chron.com was the article with Kennedy saying that Bishop Tobin had asked him in 2007 to stop receiving the Eucharist. This comes after a saga of events, beginning with an interview in October where Kennedy chastized the USCCB’s (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) stance on Health Care Reform, citing that their stance was hardly ‘pro-life’ (to read what the USCCB really says, go here)
After Kennedy cancelled a private meeting with Bishop Tobin, Tobin published the following letter which addresses the question “What does it mean to be Catholic?”
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.
After today’s statement from Kennedy, Bishop Tobin issued a statement as well.
So, what do a Kennedy, a Rhode Island Bishop, and the Solemnity of Christ the King have in common?
When Catholics receive the Eucharist, our response is “Amen”, literally meaning “so be it”. What do we say “Amen” to?
We say “Amen” that we are about to receive the actual body, soul, blood, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine. Our “Amen” is not just a “so be it” to our relationship with Christ. It is a “so be it” to our relationship with the entire body of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
In the intercessions, the Church indicates that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church in heaven and on earth, the living and the dead, and in communion with the pastors of the Church, the Pope, the diocesan bishop, his presbyterium and his deacons, and all the bishops of the whole world together with their Churches. (CCC 1354)
I did not join a sorority in college because I did not believe for what it stands for. I did not wear shirts with their Greek letters on them, nor did I participate in the traditions. Likewise, if you are not genuinely seeking communion with the Catholic Church, then it is not appropriate to receive the Sacrament that unites us as the Body of Christ.
Today we celebrate Christ, our King. We submit to His authority and pray for His will to reign in our lives because He is our King. We submit to His authority and to the moral authority of His church. And we can rejoice with the words sung by the David Crowder Band –
Here is our King
Here is our Love
Here is our God who’s come to bring us back to him
He is the one,
He is Jesus!
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