In preparation for Thanksgiving I am trying to spend a little more time each day expressing my gratitude. I often tell people how grateful I am to be at a parish with parishioners who have gone out of their way to welcome me into their lives. I am proud to serve here at QAS and I am honored to tell others how great our parishioners are when they ask about our parish, yet with this recent focus on gratitude, I realized that I don’t express my gratitude enough for our great parish staff. While I can easily take it for granted, I am truly blessed to serve at a parish where it is normal for us to have theological and pastoral discussions which allows us to tap into each other’s expertise and learn how to be more effective in our ministries.
Jude, Emily and I often talk about how to share the truths of our faith with our youth while avoiding what Emily calls Pinterest theology. So often, in trying to express our faith people come up with catchy phrases like WWJD, that while well intentioned, completely miss the point. One of these popular Pinterest Theology phrases that we hear allot is the question who is Jesus for you. To be honest that question is stupid. It doesn’t matter who we say Jesus is, because regardless of who we say He is, Jesus Christ is still the Lord. He is the King of Heaven and earth. He is Lord of the world and Lord of history because as St. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading through Him all things were made and He upholds the universe.
Jesus is a King unlike any other king. He is a King who has a deep love for His people who doesn’t simply rule over us but actually loves us to the point of laying down His life for us. He is a King who rules by His love and tender mercy and gives us the freedom to love Him wanting us to respond to His merciful invitation to share in His divine life.
Friends, the challenge is not to ask ourselves who Jesus is for us, but rather to ask ourselves how we allow Christ the King to reign in our hearts. Do we allow Christ to be the Lord of our lives and the King of our hearts or do we desire a worldly power of personal autonomy and worldly comfort to take hold of us? Do we choose Christ’s version of power, with its mandate to serve and sacrifice for others or do we seek the power of this world, which so often crushes and dominates? The temptation is always there, even amongst those of us who call ourselves Catholic, to allow power, prestige, comfort, unlimited personal freedom and convenience to reign in their lives rather than Christ. So today’s feast of Christ the King calls us to make sure that Christ is truly the Lord of our life and the King of our hearts. It challenges us to ask ourselves few simple questions.
- Do I spend time each day in silent prayer, not simply bombarding God with requests, demands and complaints? Rather do I truly speak to Him and spend time in silence listening to Him speak to me?
- Do I truly worship Him at Mass every Sunday or am I counting down the minutes until Mass is over?
- Is my life centered on taking care of my own pleasures or is my life centered on what pleases God and serving others?
- Do I invest the best of who I am and the best of what I have into the things of this world, or do I give the best of everything for the greater glory and honor of God?
Next Sunday, when we begin the Advent season, we will begin our spiritual preparation to receive Christ anew at Christmas. Perhaps this Advent season would be a good time to improve with one of those questions so that we can truly allow Jesus to be the King of our hearts, the King of our families, and the King of all our relationships.
As Catholics we declare that Christ is King of heaven and earth but crowning Jesus as King with our words is not enough. Even those who put Jesus to death mockingly called Him a king and crowned Him with a crown of thorns. Instead of asking who Jesus is for us, I think we need to ask what kind of crown we place on Jesus’ head. Is He truly the Lord of our life and the King of our hearts or do we crown Jesus with thorns by paying His kingship lip service?