The feast we celebrate today,
the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe,
is relatively new—
not even a century old in the 2,000-year history of our Church.
Some sources say that, when Pope Pius XI started it
as the “Feast of Christ the King” in 1925,
he was trying to stem the spread of secular rulers
taking over lands previously ruled by the Vatican,
disputes that were not resolved
until the Lateran Treaty in 1929.
Other sources say the Pope started the feast
to counter the increasing threat to the power of the church
from dictators like Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin.
Our church still engages in political disputes and power struggles.
The irony in this, whether back in the 1920s or now,
is that Jesus' teaching is clear.
Jesus doesn't call for the religious powers to govern a country,
as the Papacy had tried to do.
He doesn't call for the government
to make everybody follow the rules of one religion,
as the U.S. Bishops have sometimes tried to do.
In fact, Jesus' teaching is clearly not about worldly power,
no matter whether it's the power of the state
or the power of the church.
The scriptures, especially John's gospel,
show us Jesus teaching about the reign of God,
not the reign of church or state.
The idea of a king is foreign to us.
But we do have people in positions of power,
and their decisions are not always ones
that our own well-formed consciences can agree with.
Because we are followers of Jesus,
we try to act in accordance with his teaching,
even when it goes against the government or the church.
Jesus showed us, in his teaching and with his life,
that there is another way, a better way, a more effective way—
the way of service, the way of peace, the way of love.
He said that he came not to be served but to serve.
That's what he did,
and that's what we're called to do.
We don't have to think hard to figure out what that means.
Following Jesus means that we act out of love for all people.
So we oppose capital punishment.
We support gun control.
We welcome refugees and immigrants.
Our Holy Spirit Catholic Community stands vigil in prayer
when the State of Ohio executes a prisoner in our name.
We contribute to Compassion on Death Row.
We co-sponsor “Guns to Gardens”
with the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence.
Following Jesus means
that we care for the poor and the oppressed.
Our Community members volunteer in countless efforts
to help the homeless and the hungry and the downtrodden.
That's on top of very generous donations
to shelters and soup kitchens
and tutoring programs and disaster relief;
and your letters to elected officials and to the media
on behalf of programs to make life better for everyone,
here and around the world.
We look at our government
and see challenges to the Way of Jesus.
Our next President has spoken against almost every principle
of Catholic Social Teaching.
He proposes that we set forth on a path of hate
for the most vulnerable, poorest,
and most oppressed among us.
His climate-denying lays out a path of death and destruction
for peoples here and around the world,
for us and for generations to come.
But we have hope in the one
who is higher than the President of the United States,
higher than any power on earth,
greater than any power in the universe.
It's the hope that Dorothy Day wrote about in the '40s.
She said, “Often we comfort ourselves only with words,
but if we pray enough,
the conviction will come too that Christ is our King,
not Stalin, Bevins, or Truman.”
We can be confident because God is in charge.
What we are celebrating today
is not a style of government with its earthly kings
but the victory of love over hate,
the triumph of life over death.
We're celebrating that the reign of God is at hand—
the goodness, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peace
that Jesus revealed to us.
Our first reading today tells us that God chose David,
of the flesh and blood of the people,
to shepherd Israel as king.
Our second reading tells us that God chose Jesus,
our own flesh and blood, our brother,
to reflect God's own self.
Our Gospel shows us Jesus,
true unto death to God's way of love.
And now God has chosen us, just ordinary folks,
to bring about God's reign in our time.
Donald Trump is going about the task of selecting people
to help him do the things he promised during the campaign.
But we have hope
because God has chosen us to imitate the ministry of Jesus.
We have been chosen to do the work
that shows that the reign of God,
as the U.S. Bishops put it back in 1987,
“is more powerful than evil, sickness,
and the hardness of the human heart.”
Like Jesus, we are to take up “the cause
of those who suffer discrimination.”
We are the ones God has chosen now,
for the challenges of this time,
to bring light to the world.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday,
as we prepare to celebrate Eucharist today,
we have reason to give thanks.
We give thanks for our brother Jesus
who teaches us how to live and how to love.
We give thanks that we are called to follow him on the way,
servant disciples of our servant leader.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006