Christ the King – let’s build His not our Kingdom
I had a pleasant surprise at last Sunday’s mass celebrated by Fr.Stanley Antoni.He may be a young priest but his sermon was a timely wake up call for us Catholics and the Church in general. His sermon on the occasion of the Feast of Christ the King was very appropriate and relevant as we, as the Church, are here to build His Kingdom among us on earth.
He rightly pointed out that we are all Theologians in some way. He pointed out that to be a good theologian we have to fulfil 3 criteria:
1. Love the world and our fellow humans
2. A critic who is not afraid to speak the truth, against injustice.
3. An energizer who is willing to initiate change around him
Fr.Stanley’s advice that as a Christian we must read the bible in one hand and the secular newspapers in the other is very appropriate today. We all read the bible but many of us do not relate it to the problems in the world. The bible has become irrelevant to the plight of the people.
He went to explain that we always criticize others but fail to look at our own faults. We accuse the government for being racist but refuse to admit that racism is very much alive in our Church. I agree with Fr.Stanley that our Church is rich and powerful to the extent to have become too obese for failing to identify with the problems of the masses. He referred to the Church in US as an example of that unhealthy obesity of our Catholic Church. The Church there (due to the many scandals) has become a symbol of shame to Catholicism and if we don’t act now we will soon become one too in Malaysia. Yes,if we continue to build our own kingdom, Jesus will soon take away the wealth and power from our earthly church as these are not used for the benefit of mankind but to enrich ourselves with the worldly pleasures.
I hope Fr.Stanley and all like-minded young priests would continue with their good work in trying to make the Catholic Church see reality. They will be reprimanded and ‘persecuted’ for speaking the truth but I pray that God will give them the strength and courage to withstand all these.
It is timely for us to reflect on what Fr.Stanley said especially with regards to his gloomy forecast of our Church. As a result of our wealth, power and good life, we have diverted from our ideals as the people of Christ. Our church is in need of drastic change to return to the true path of Christ.
This Sunday’s Gospel reading taken from John 18: 33-37, quotes Jesus as saying his Kingdom is not of this world. He says he came into this world to bear witness to the truth and we all know what happened to Him for that. On the contrary today we are intent on building not His but our own material Kingdom in this world by our greed, selfishness and suppression of truth.
Jesus was not a superstar who lived in luxury enjoying the pleasures in life. Instead he lived a life of simplicity and humility upholding the truth which lead him to die like a criminal on the cross. We as his followers are not asked to go that extent but at least do the little we can to live like him in our own lives. Can’t we stand up for truth? Can’t we speak up against injustice? Can’t we be compassionate to open our hearts to those who need us? Can’t we be humble to seek forgiveness from those whom we have hurt? Can’t we be merciful to those who hurt us?
Unless our Catholic Church and we, its people can answer ‘yes’ to these above questions we will not be worthy to be called followers of Christ. Let us be reassured that if we do the right thing, God will always be with us whatever that may come to pass our way.
This is the Gospel reading for the Sunday
(John 18: 33-37)
33 So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him and asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' 34 Jesus replied, 'Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others said it to you about me?' 35 Pilate answered, 'Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?' 36 Jesus replied, 'Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. As it is, my kingdom does not belong here.' 37 Pilate said, 'So, then you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'It is you who say that I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.'