Feast of Christ the King 2019
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: November 24, 2019
What will the world look like in the future? Many people write books or articles or give talks with predictions about what the world will look like in the future. Recently I saw a notice for a book called, What is the future of Christianity? We like to look ahead to try to see what to expect.
What will the world be like in the future? What will Christianity look like in the future? What will the Catholic Church be like in the future? It is interesting to think about these future possibilities. But, we are pretty poor in predicting what things will be like in the future. We cannot see very well the unexpected turns and events and changes that we will face.
A more useful reflection is “What type of Church is needed in the future?” “What is the mission of the Church?” What Church is needed, what type of Christians do we need to become?
On this Feast of Christ the King, we are presented with the Gospel account of the Crucifixion of Jesus from Luke’s Gospel. On that Cross we are given two completely different visions of success.
In the Cross we see the full power and force of the Roman Empire. Wealth and military force that allowed them to dominate others, especially the weak and poor. It reflects the vision our world usually embraces.
Our world sees success in terms of wealth, worldly power. It is found in great powers and empires. It is achieved by violence, military force, domination of others. It is self serving.
But God is not found in that show of force and dominance. God’s power is seen in the helpless Jesus, suffering and dying on the Cross. Jesus was not wealthy, powerful, successful in the eyes of the world. He died helpless on a cross being ridiculed even by a lowly criminal beside him.
In history, the Church, we Christians, are constantly tempted to strive for worldly power, wealth, success, influence. We desire to be important in the eyes of the world. But, Jesus gave us an entirely different vision on that Cross. Not self serving but self giving.
True power and strength for the sake of the world is not found in violence, in military force, in wealth, in an empire that dominates. The Church is not called to be successful or important in the world, nor to be an empire that dominates. Like Jesus, our mission is to serve the world in the humble offering of our lives.
We need to ask ourselves as Christians, “what kind of Church will be faithful to the Gospel, what kind of Church reflects this vision of Jesus on the Cross?” This is the Church that our world needs. I want to give a list of some of the things that this Church will be called to be today.
Therefore, it is what you and I as Christians need to be.
- The Church needs to be an instrument of peace. To work for harmony between peoples, in particular between people of different religions. It is why Pope Francis often speaks about the need for inter-religious dialogue. He is presently visiting Thailand. A country that has very few Catholics, primarily a Buddhist nation. He is there giving us a sign of the call of the Catholic Church to be a leader in working for harmony between different religions and peoples. We are fundamentally one human family. We are to be instruments of peace.
- The Church needs to work for the common good within society. We are not to focus on our own needs, but what is the good for all people. This means we are to have a special concern for the poor and needy among us. We are to work for the common good.
- The Church needs to embrace simplicity and to have a deep care for our common home in
creation. We need to embrace a simplicity of life that cares for all creation.
- The Church must embrace a non-violent way of being. We need to reject violence, force,
resentment. This includes in the words we use against others. We need to be people who are
non-violent in relating to one another.
Each of you could add to this list of what the Church needs to be today. Perhaps take some time to add to this list, what kind of Church is needed today?
What will the Church be like in the future? I cannot give you a very accurate picture of that
future. But, we can have a clear picture of what the Church needs to be in the future. On the Feast of Christ the King, we are presented with the vision of the Cross.
The Church is not to be worried about being successful in the eyes of the world, it is not about being wealthy, powerful, influential. Jesus served humanity and the world most when he died helpless on the Cross. Our Church will offer most when we offer our lives not for our success, but to humbly serve. This will mean being a church that is an instrument of peace, working for harmony between peoples, a church that works for the common good within society, a church that embraces a simplicity of life and cares for creation, a church that embraces a non-violent way of life.
This is the Christianity that will be faithful to the Gospel.
This is the Church that we need to be for the sake of the world.