Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Francis Xavier Church, Hyannis, MA
Christ the King, Year B
November 23, 2003
Dn 7:13-14; Rev1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37
1) Today with the whole Church we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, which is the end of the Church’s liturgical year. Next week is “New Year’s Day” in the Church, the first Sunday of Advent. This Church gives us this feast of Christ the King because what we mark today is the culmination of everything we have been discussing over the course of the past 51 weeks, all of which has been geared toward the conclusion, toward the fact, that Jesus Christ is truly King of the Universe. This is a FACT, whether we recognize it or not. Whether 51% of the electorate would elect him as King of the Universe, it doesn’t change the fact that he is. And certainly at the end of the time, when the Lord comes in all his glory to judge the living and the dead, that fact will be apparent to all. We celebrate this feast with great joy, because we, by God’s grace, KNOW this reality, that our King is our Good Shepherd who loved us so much that he laid down his life for us. But knowing this reality is not enough.
2) If Christ is truly King of the Universe — and he is! — then Christ is and must be King of this World. If Christ is really King of this world — and he is! — then he must be King of my life. And if Christ is really King of my life — is he? — then he must be King of every part of my life. I must let him reign in all parts of my life, if he is truly my Lord, my God, my King. So this feast is a great day to ask ourselves whether Christ is truly King of our lives, whether he rules everywhere. If he’s king of my life, then he should be king of my time. If he’s king of my life, then he must be king of my home. If he’s king of my life, then he should be king of my wallet. If he’s king of my life, every one of my moral decisions must be geared toward living in his kingdom; in every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas and the one who seeks to live in His kingdom is the one that says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
3) Knowing that Christ is King is not enough for us, as I said above. Christ the King calls us to LIVE in his kingdom, to “seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness and everything else will be given to us besides.” To seek his kingdom means to seek the TRUTH. God’s kingdom is where this truth reigns. Jesus told us that much in the Gospel the Church gives us for today’s feast. After Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you a king?”, the Lord replied, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus came to give witness to the truth — to the truth about God and his love; to the truth about us, who we are and who we’re called to be.
4) Central to the truth about who we are in God’s plan is that God has created each one of us male and female, and there’s great meaning in this mystery of the original sexual differentiation between man and woman. In the beginning when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” God could have created another man to be Adam’s helper, but he didn’t. He created Eve, a helper equal in dignity but complementary. Adam and Eve were called to live in a communion of persons in fruitful love, in which they could literally “make love,” and generate a person from their love. (This is how man and woman are fully in God’s image, because God is the first communion of persons in love and their love is fruitful: the spiritual love between the Father and the Son generated a third person, the Holy Spirit.) This original differentiation between man and woman and the call to form a communion of persons in love through marriage constitute one of the central truths to which Jesus came from heaven to earth to give witness. Jesus said quite clearly in the Gospel: “In the beginning God made them male and female. For this reason a man leaves his mother and father and clings to his wife and they become one flesh. What God has joined man must not divide.” In the beginning, God made the human person male and female and then joined them, male and female, in marriage. This is one of the central truths about who we are as human beings and whom we’re called to be. Any time we ignore it, we ignore the truth about ourselves, made in God’s image, and WE DO SO AT OUR PERIL.
5) The 4-3 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week to try to change God’s plan for marriage to include the union of two males or two females is an offense to the Creator, to the human person, to our society, and, yes, to our state’s constitution. On the swing vote of ONE JUSTICE, the traditional understanding of marriage that has been part of society since the beginning, and part of the history of this Commonwealth, was considered “unconstitutional,” even though no one in the very long history of our state had ever considered it unconstitutional before. It’s an extremely dangerous decision, because it is based on false understandings of the human person, of marriage and of the human family, which is the primary and most fundamental building block of society. If you attack the fundamental building block of the family, you will weaken the society built upon it. The Court can try to change the definition of marriage, but it can never change the truth about things, especially the truth about how God has made the human person. Our masculinity or femininity matters in God’s plan — it is not irrelevant! — and marriage is grounded on the complementarity of our masculinity and femininity. Any time we try to tinker substantially with marriage and go against God’s plan, we go against our very nature, and we’re the ones who will end up dramatically hurting ourselves.
6) Whom will gay marriage hurt? It will hurt the individual gay men and women, who by means of this will be encouraged to continue in and even stabilize the gay lifestyle, which — we have to state this clearly, especially here in Church — risks their eternal salvation in addition to bringing many harmful consequences on the human level that flow from the sin of homosexual activity. It will hurt children raised in their homes. As well-meaning and as caring as “two mommies” or “two daddies” may be — and sometimes, we have to be honest, they can be very caring and loving, even putting some heterosexual, married couples to shame — every honest observer will realize such a distorted situation is just not healthy for the overall formation of a young person. It will end up hurting the rest of society, especially our children, because if marriage can mean anything whatsoever a few justices say it does, then it in fact means NOTHING. The beauty of heterosexual marriages and love will be watered down, we’ll experience an even greater crisis of marriage in our state, our families will grow weaker and all of our society will suffer. Why will this occur? Because “gay marriage” is built on a LIE about the human person, one which says that our masculinity or femininity doesn’t really matter, one which says that it is WE who determine the meaning of love, marriage and sexuality, rather than God.
7) Jesus came to give witness to the truth, and as he says, “everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Now is the time for those who BELONG TO THE TRUTH AND HEAR HIS VOICE to stand up in witness to the truth. Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That’s why, my good people, on behalf of Christ, I’m asking YOU to do SOMETHING. I’m asking you to stand up for Christ — who stood up and died for you — and give witness with Him and for Him to the truth about marriage. Phone your friends, make sure they know how wrong this is and harm harmful it will prove. Write your legislators. Tell them that unless they vote for the constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman, then they cannot possibly represent you and will never again get your vote. Please don’t give in to the temptation to think, “What difference can I make?” In addition to remembering the last presidential election which was settled by a few hundred voters in Florida, remember the story about the little boy with five loaves and two fish in the Gospel. Little did he know when he handed this meager gift over to the Lord, that He would multiply his gift to feed thousands. Alone, our efforts, individually, may not be able to make a difference. Together, our efforts can make a huge difference. But placing our common efforts in the Lord’s own hands, we can have a decisive different. With Christ the King all things are possible, but he awaits our “yes.”
8 ) Ultimately Christ came not just to preach the truth, but to DIE in giving witness to it. St. John the Baptist died out of witness to it, specifically the truth about marriage. St. Stephen died out of witness to it. So did St. Peter and St. Paul. So have countless other ordinary men and women throughout the ages. The Lord is probably not calling us to die out of witness to it, but he is calling us to LIVE out of witness to it. The Father sent His Son from heaven, “to give witness to the truth,” and Jesus says to us now, “Just as the Father sent me, so I send YOU.” On the feast of Christ the King, we ask him to fully reign in us, so that, with him, we may bring the truth and the good news of his kingdom out to our contemporaries. WE pray that he will give us the help he knows we need to LIVE and PROCLAIM the truth, the only truth that will set us and others free.”
Jesus, who came to give witness to the truth, now says to each of us, “Follow me!” How do you respond?