A homily by Fr. Matthew Habiger, OSB
Do you ever wonder about where history is headed?
We have lived through part of the 20th Century and now are in the 3rd Millennium, the 21st Century after the first coming of Jesus. Where is history going? This is the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is the end of the liturgical year. It is a preview, or foretaste, of the end of salvation history and of secular history.
Gaudium et Spes 45 explains it this way: “The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of history and civilization, the center of humanity, the joy of all hearts, and the fulfillment of all aspirations.”
Pope Pius XI instituted this Solemnity with the encyclical Quas Primas in 1925. His intention was to remind the powers of his day (the Nazis in Germany, the Fascists in Italy, and the Communists in Russia) that they too were under the authority of God. They were not their own “little gods,” claiming absolute authority.
It is difficult for many people to visualize God, and to picture in their minds Jesus coming back to Earth to claim his Kingdom. This is because God purposely keeps himself hidden. He doesn’t impose himself. He leaves us to our own good counsel. He gives us our freedom to freely choose to pursue the good, right and true, or to choose their opposites.
We need to think about the fact that there is another, and greater world. This world is passing and contingent. That world is eternal and absolute. Think of it this way. We are only here for so many years. The cemeteries north and west of Atchison are an undeniable proof of this. 100 years ago, no one in this Church even existed. No one even heard of, or thought of, us!! Think of that! And in another 100 years none of here will be alive on this Earth. We will be elsewhere, and that will depend upon the many choices and deeds we performed during our lives here. We should not become totally absorbed in this passing world, and ignore the permanent Kingdom of God.
At the Second Coming, Jesus will come in the splendor of his glory and majesty, and all the angels with him. He will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations. Today there are 7 billion people living in 200 countries on the five continents. People profess many different religions, or no religion, but they will all gather before the throne of Jesus. And not just this generation. All the previous generations, and all future generations. Then Jesus will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul talks about the Second Coming. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. … Then comes the end, when he delivers the Kingdom to God the Father, after destroying every rule, and every authority and power (vv. 22-4).” These are the demonic spirits hostile to God and to the advance of his Kingdom. This will include all those forces which attack the Church and promote immorality.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death is the result of sin, of man’s rebellion against God, beginning with the Original Sin of our first parents. Jesus came into our world to save us from the wreckage of our sinful rebellion. He makes it possible for us to live a good life here on Earth, and then pass into his Kingdom. Death does not have the last word. Death is only a threshold we must cross on our way to our ultimate fulfillment. Heaven will be our sharing in the life of God, in the personal communion of the Three Divine Persons, and sharing in the Communion of Saints and Angels.
“When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone” (v. 28). At the 2nd Coming, after the separation of the sheep and goats, the good and the bad, there will be perfect harmony among all the Saints, the Angels and God. This blissful harmony is something we all want. We want it in our marriages, in our families, our nation and in the world.
A harmonious family is a good example, or foretaste, of what Heaven will be. Marriage and family life is very fragile today, beset with many problems. This is what provoked the recent Special Synod on the Family in Rome. But we still find some harmonious families. The spouses know God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family, and they live it. They are thoroughly committed to each other, for all their life. When problems arrive, as they inevitably will, the spouses face them and work with them. The spouses understand that all love contains elements of self-sacrifice. Spousal love means making the total personal gift of self to the other. Children are seen as God’s greatest gift to a couple. Children thrive in the love and guidance of their parents. Children are obedient to their parents because God has shared some of his authority with the parents. And spouses are submissive to each other, while exercising their special talents and charisms for the benefit of their marriage and family. And spouses are obedient to God, who has all authority, and is the source of all love, life, family and goodness.
You know when you are in the presence of a harmonious family. You know when you are living in a harmonious parish, or community, or country. And you know when forces are at work to destroy this harmony. At the 2nd Coming, Christ the King will put all his enemies under his feet. Goodness shall reign. Sin, evil and death will all be vanquished.
So what are we to do? Jesus advises us: Be watchful. Use your time and talents well. Advance the good in all its forms, and resist the bad in all its guises and deceptions. Be faithful and productive servants, and wise maidens. Build strong marriages and healthy, happy families. Pursue the vocation God has given you. Learn, love and live the Faith. Bring your values into the public square where decisions and public policies are being formed.
If we keep our eyes and thoughts on Christ the King, and the 2nd Coming, then we will place all our problems in proper perspective and know how we should deal with them.
Remember the film For Greater Glory? As Padre Miguel Pro and the Mexican Cristeros said during the Mexican persecution of the Church in the 1920s: Viva el Cristo Rey!