The New York Times best-selling author and internationally acclaimed social researched, Angela Duckworth has spent her life studying successful people. Early on in her career, while she was still a middle school teacher, she became fascinated with the observation that some of her smartest students were under performing while other less gifted students were seemingly over performing. For years she has studied the most successful people, from cadets at West Point, to participants in the national spelling bee, and elite athletes including Olympic gold medal winners. Her research has led her to the conclusion that one of the most essential marks of the most successful people is that they identify one goal that is of supreme importance to them and order the rest of their life around that goal.
So, what about you? What is the ultimate goal that you are working for? My prayer is that as you step back to think about this question you realize that the sole purpose of our life on this earth is to spend eternity with God forever in heaven and so everything that we do as individuals and even everything that we do as a Sacred Heart parish family must be oriented towards the goal of becoming saints. Everything that we do in life should help take us one step closer to heaven.
The good news is that as we take steps towards heaven, we end up making advances in this world. “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.” This shouldn’t surprise us. If we are Christians, followers of Christ then our sole purpose should be to follow after Christ who is king of both heaven and earth.
The meaning of today’s celebration of Christ the King and our readings is clear: all of creation, this world and beyond, is subject to Christ. No one, and nothing is greater. Yet sadly it seems that so many in our world do not have their sole focus on Christ. Turn on the news, read the headlines, scan social media and you quickly see that many people today are not ruled by Christ the King. Sadly, so many around us are ruled by fear, mistrust, and some even by hatred.
As Catholics we declare that Christ is the 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. So today, 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 Him with thorns by paying His kingship lip service?
In addition to ordering their entire lives around one goal, Angela Duckworth discovered that those who are most successful in life have a high level of grit or stick-to-it-iveness. Jesus of course teaches us “by your perseverance you will save your life.” Our life as followers of Jesus Christ is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Through the ups and downs of history, through the course of disasters and even persecutions, Jesus continues to encourage us to remain focused and to go about our lives persevering in faith, hope, and love. As our king, He promises that he will be with us through all of it. And so here we are at the Eucharist this morning and every Sunday to be strengthened for the week ahead so that no matter what it will hold we will persevere in faith, hope, and charity. While none of us knows what the future will hold, let alone what this we will hold, as long as we know that Jesus holds the future; as long as we persevere in allowing Christ to be the King of our lives, He will make everything work out for us in the end when we come to the Kingdom of heaven.
 Angela Duckworth, Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York: Scribner (2018).
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. San Francisco: HarperOne (2015).
 Luke 21:19