GOING BEYOND 2012!
Sunday Reflection/Catholic Homily
Solemnity of Christ the King(B)
November 22, 2009
Readings: Daniel 7:13-14 / Rev 1:5-8 / Jn 18:33b-37
A spate of movies that focus on end-time mega disasters seems to hog the world’s attention – and morbid curiosity – in our days and times! I am sure my readers all await the release of the much-ballyhooed movie 2012 since its trailers started keeping the world in rapt attention these past months.
I am not about to dissuade you from seeing what is basically designed to entertain, even as I did not tell people not to watch the “Da Vinci Code” and its sequel (I actually would want to see it!). In fact, it is just as well for me, for as a preacher and teacher, it is always good to have something that juts out concretely from daily human experience that could be used as jump-off point to discuss something that goes beyond merely human experience. The philosopher Gadamer has a 64 dollar word for it – “fusion of horizons!” Preaching is partly doing a fusion of horizons, sort of … It has to do with bridging the gap between the arena of daily human experience with the meaning of that experience from God’s point of view.
Too bad, however, people are keen to see the pole of human experience, but often fail to see what lies beyond the pale of human experience. Engrossed as we often all are in the nitty gritty of our everyday lives, we fail to see the wider horizon of meaning – the area where experience becomes a starting point for wisdom, for life-changing wisdom, that leads us to see more, not less, from whatever it is we live on a day-to-day basis.
We have seen so many disasters in our short or long lives – whether natural or man-made. For my generation, we have seen and witnessed quite a few major temblors that wrought palpable havoc and destruction to human life and property. We have seen enough typhoons in our lives to know that when tragedy strikes, humans are powerless to go against forces that are bigger than the world, bigger than him, and even bigger than life itself. Again, for my generation, we have seen enough of man-made tragedies that those of us who are a little more sensitive do know that the forces of evil can unleash enough energy to make millions and millions of peoples’ lives miserable, unsafe, and uncertain!
I personally have seen enough of the tragedy called Philippine politics that has wrought havoc to our people’s future since we started running this country “like hell as Filipinos,” instead of having it “run like heaven by foreigners”.
Tragedy is definitely part and parcel of our lives. It basically springs from the original tragedy called sin by Sacred Scriptures. We know what that means. We know that terrorism happened as early as Abel and Cain’s times. We know that cheating took place even among brothers named Jacob and Esau, and we do know that between you and I, there remains the possibility spoken of so well in the New Testament: “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
But endings do have a way to remind us of something that goes beyond endings. When something ends, in whatever way – cataclysmic, dramatic, or in a way more akin to just sort of “fading away” like the waning sunset does on a clear, quiet, summer eve, we are led to reflect on what it all could possibly mean for us. We are invited to become a little more philosophical, a little more theological, if you will.
Endings do make us grapple with a world that transcends the here and now. We are invited to move to a different realm- the realm of meaning.
We started to pore through this world of meanings these past few Sundays. In fact, the previous Sunday, we heard something from Daniel, who spoke of the end-times: “those who sleep shall awake.” Today, the Solemnity of Christ the King, we hear more from Daniel. But this time around, it is more direct and straightforward … He speaks about the coming of the Son of Man with details that approximate the images of 2012, the movie. This language is called apocalyptic language, couched in symbolisms that mean more than what it says literally.
But whilst 2012 and other disaster films lead us to fear, such is not the aim of apocalyptic literature. Daniel and other books of Scripture that speak of the coming end-times aim, not at instilling fear, but at fostering wisdom – the sort of wisdom that makes us see the final goal of our existence, and not the means that are available for us to reach that goal. It is meant to lead us to a higher realm of theological and spiritual meaning – the realm of wisdom!
What is this wisdom all about? Let’s get it straight from the “horse’s mouth!” At the opening prayer, we begged the Lord thus: “Almight God, you break the power of evil and make all things new …” Similarly, in the alternate prayer, we asked: “free all the world to rejoice in his peace, to glory in his justice, to live in his love.”
As you all see, this is not the language of fear, not the language of terror, but the language of salvation!
And this is the height of meaning that today’s feast brings us. Our Lord is King … yes … but King only for our sake, and not so much for his sake. He is proclaimed King not because he needs it, but because we need to have one Lord, one King, one Master and not a plurality of masters and false lords that we humans serve at one and the same time.
We need to have a King to rally behind. In a world that is beset, besotted by, and beholden to so many false gods, we need to have one common rallying point and one common Lord to bring us back to the paths that lead to peace.
This is the spiritual wisdom that matters. This is the meaning that makes wonders. Fear makes us servile and servitude makes for so many unfreedoms. Tragedies make us paralyzed on account of uncertainty. The tragedies of our sinful political structure keep us poor, dependent, and utterly hopeless from the human point of view. Sin has engulfed most of our human structures of governance, leadership, and much everything else.
But endings are beginnings. To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, for one. When one see more, and not less, we see beyond. We see above. We see more that just what the movie 2012 tells us and shows us.
Let’s go beyond 2012 then. Let’s listen to what Scriptures and today’s liturgy tell us. For everyone who “belongs to the truth, listens to Christ’s voice.” May all in heaven and earth acclaim his glory and never cease to praise him. (Opening Prayer).
Chicago, IL 60605
November 15, 2009