Catholic Homily / Sunday Reflection
Solemnity of Christ the King – Year C
November 21, 2010

We started the month of November filling ourselves with hope-giving memories of the saints – “the holy ones in light!” The second day of this same month saw us all filling ourselves with fond and hope-filled memories of those, who, like us, once tried and struggled in this valley of tears, to be hopefully numbered among the same “holy ones in light.” We prayed for all our departed brothers and sisters, that “eternal light might shine upon them,” and that “perpetual rest” be given them.

This month is a month so given in to life-enabling memories. All of it, traditionally, is dedicated to prayerful mementoes for all those who have gone ahead of us. This month revels in memorial, and is inundated with what memorial ultimately leads to – thoughts of endings, ideas of finality, intimations of glory, and clues of immortality that await those who are considered by God, “fit to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light.”

We are numbered among this people of the memorial. We Christians are a people of the memorial. We thrive on and flourish owing to memorial. We breathe memorial in and out. But the memorial that we Christians speak of is not the kind that merely looks back. The memorial that we Christian believers are used to, is the kind that looks back, not for its own sake, but in order for us to understand the present, and claim the future.

We look back to the events that make for salvation history. We look to the present and we see connections … events past that make us understand events present … historical events of times past that help us make sense of unfolding history in the present. Adam and Eve … Abraham … Moses … David … they all were men and women with real flesh and blood whose memorial we now keep and cherish. Their life and death, struggles and successes are the very same stuff that we love to share about our own beloved dead, who, like us, once hoped to be numbered among those who now “share the inheritance” from above.

Today’s solemnity, like any feast in the Church’s year of grace, is no exception to this whole cluster of salvific memorial. But this time, we look more ahead, rather than cast a backward glance to history. This time, we don’t wallow in the past, nor get stalled in the present. We claim the future that comes with “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We claim the future like as if it were already here, and, with the psalmist, we declare: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!” (Responsorial Psalm).

We must make a little distinction between mere remembrance and saving memorial … Remembrance: “in those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites our and brought them back.” Memorial: “let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.” Memorial: “He delivered us from the power of darkness.” Memorial: “he transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption.”

Remembrance: “the rulers sneered and jeered: If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” Saving memorial: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Solemnity of Christ the King, is not a celebration of an artifact of stale history. It is a proclamation of history in the making, history that unfolds, history that happens, not just yesterday, in the past, but today, in the here and the now.

Celebrations may just be given in to looking backward. This is how we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Small wonder we think of them in terms of numbers of years: paper, pearl, silver, golden, diamond. But in the most famous act of memorial of the Catholic Church, we just don’t say, “let us remember our faith.” Instead, what we are asked to do is “to proclaim the mystery of faith.” And that proclamation crosses the past, transcends the present, and claims the future: “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!”

In our times, it is hard enough to remember what happened. We don’t know our history, for the most part. But it is even harder to make sense of the present. We do not understand how we postmodern people can go on destroying the only world and the only home we know – the earth – and still claim to be Christian believers. We are afraid of the future. We are afraid of nuclear war, of terrorism, of cataclysms that are most likely going to accrue from man’s too much tinkering with the world of nature. Like Paul, we don’t even understand why we act the way we do; why we do what we hate; and not do what we love. We are torn between romantically trying to hold onto the past, and embracing the stale status quo of the present.

We need more than just a digital record of events past. We need more than just an empty promise of a technological future. We need saving memorial. We need to hold on to something more than just wishful thinking. We need signs and symbols that effect what they signify. We need a figure of someone to tell us in no uncertain terms: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

We need a King to assure us that the present fiefdoms and turfs of very powerful and well-placed people will end someday. We need a King to show us that He is here with us, yesterday, today, and tomorrow … for all ways, for always, and in all days.

This is the solemnity of Christ. King. Lord. God. Yesterday. Today. Forever. Only He can guarantee our being “fit to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light!”