A homily for the Feast of Christ the King (B), November 25, 2012 Fr. Joseph T. Nolan On the feast of Christ the King it is good to explore what Jesus meant by his favorite metaphor, one that he used more often than any other phrase. What is it? The Kingdom of God. It is familiar to us from the Lord’s Prayer, but what is it? Not just heaven, but something like heaven on earth. It is not a political system but rather, a state of mind, or an open attitude to the gospel, the grace of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. For what end? To help make real, each day, by one’s attitude or action, one deed after another, the virtues of justice, peace, and love in human life. That sounds a little like the famous directive for living one’s life that comes from a prophet Hosea, “What is it that is required of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.” You may choose any directive, any word from God, or sacrament like communion, that helps to bring about the presence of God in ourselves, and through us, in the world. It is a way of changing the world, making it possible for all of us to live as a family. The human family – indeed, as the children of God. Others might claim that it is the Beatitudes, or the entire Sermon on the Mount which give us the laws or charter of the kingdom. Matthew assembles all that in chapters five, six, and seven of his gospel; it is his great summary of Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps you recall that it is a lofty and difficult program. Or some would say, “challenging.” I once protested to my greatest professor that it was unreal to talk about loving your enemy, walking a second mile, and all that. He replied, “It’s very practical. The only way you really overcome your enemy is to make him your friend.” That works out in history (sometimes). Look at Germany today, whom we helped to rehabilitate after a terrible war. Or the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. When they had an extended war with Egypt, the prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir, and the president of Egypt at that time, Anwar Sadat, appeared to be sworn enemies. Finally they decided to meet, and Sadat flew to Jerusalem; the Israeli military band was astonished when told to learn the Egyptian national anthem to play upon his arrival! (It is the proper ritual for a visiting head of state.) So they meet, these two who had been hurling insults at each other, and they talk about a future for their grandchildren. They exchange gifts. They begin a tenuous friendship between the two nations. It has held ever since. Justice, peace, and love. They are big objectives, so start small. One acts justly as an employer by giving a just or living wage. If you are an employee, work with integrity, doing good work for something that helps others. If you are a student, really pursue your goal, which is to learn in depth how to read, write, and think. We act justly if we pay bills on time when possible. We think justly if we understand and advance the role of women, so long subordinated, to take part in economic and political life. And, yes, in the governance and ministry of the church. In justice to the Creator, we should make the best use of time. It is a gift we receive every day, and we waste a lot of it, especially since the social network makes it so easy. Another great challenge is that, in justice to our children, we should try to save the world for them. No one really disagrees now that the atmosphere is threatened, or that an all-out war with nuclear weapons would destroy the earth. Peacemaking has never been more important. There is peacemaking on a small scale, as small as a human relationship (and life is full of them). It means we try to avoid quarrels, or at least get over them. Reconciliation is a beautiful thing. As for love, that third characteristic of the kingdom, the best description for “how to go about it” is to marry and have children. Sacrificial love – agapé, like Jesus’ own – runs all through family life. I know this role is not for all. Here I am. (But not by choice. Celibacy is just attached to the priesthood). The other best prescription for bringing about the kingdom of God through love is to study, absorb, and emulate the life of Jesus. His love was shown in service to the weak, the needy, and to the people we call sinners. Us. We say that the whole program – how to go about it – is outlined by the Sermon on the Mount. If that is too much, then at least reflect on the Great Commandment. It is surprising that so many of Jesus’ followers don’t know it. Read the version in Luke’s gospel; better still, memorize it and the parable which follows: the Good Samaritan. How do I become a good neighbor, a compassionate person? If we are devout enough to reflect each night on the day just passed, or at least make this reflection at least while on a retreat, a good question is: what have I done with this day, or so far with my life, to bring about the presence of God in my life. And through me, to the world? Yes, to make it more and more a place where justice, peace, and love prevail. This is a great way to honor Christ the King.