POWER TO SERVE, NOT TO OPPRESS
N.B. I am posting my piece earlier as I will be on the road and don't know if I can find an opportunity to sit down and write or even post this reflection in the coming days. This is for CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY.
[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
Solemnity of Christ the King – B
November 22, 2015
POWER TO SERVE, NOT TO OPPRESS!
I write at a time when the world’s APEC leaders are in town, when the whole country literally had to hold its breath for a week to give way to the biggest send-off party to a dying administration. Put away all the blaming game and the usual sob stories coming from the family that has, for better or for worse, ruled the roost in this forlorn country for the longest time, one cannot deny the fact that, whether we like it or not, the world has become a smaller place, and linking up with other nations on the Asia-Pacific front, is not just unavoidable, but economically and politically necessary.
The face of power has changed in the context of a shrinking world. In the Philippine context, even power has its own “APEC” side. To get elected, you need funds. To have funds, you need to have a party. To get a position, your party needs to have a well-oiled machinery (read: a lot of money, and a lot cronies to deliver votes, including – you guessed it right – a cult masquerading as a legit religion that acts like a kingmaker!). And then, what one does with the power is what is exactly wrong with Philippine politics.
For the most part and in most cases, that power is meant to oppress, not to serve, notwithstanding all the emotional promises and pledges to help the so-called masses.
I am sorry to be bearer of bad news today. But I do so because I also want to be a bearer of good news. This is my task. This is my duty as a preacher and teacher. My job is to help you make a fusion of horizons – that of God and His Word, on the one hand, and the horizon of sinful humanity, our own world steeped in sin and selfishness, on the other.
And here is where the Word comes in handy, for after all, the liturgy is both liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist. There is no doubt that the Old Testament points to “an everlasting dominion, that shall not be taken away, a kingship that shall not be destroyed.” There is no doubt, too , that the New Testament confirms that, and speaks of Jesus Christ as “ruler of the kings of the earth,” who has made us into a kingdom, priests for God and Father.”
But the Gospel, while acknowledging all that, adds a nuanced and a very rich vision to what this kingship and kingdom is like. In other words, Christ says “yes” to kingship, but “no” to an earthly kingdom. He says “yes” to power, but “no” to earthly power.
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
Yes, and this is what makes it different from the powers that the world offers. The powers-that-be that I know and have known all my life have all squandered real power. The power that they had is the power that is mostly self-serving and self-oriented. Their power is not to serve, notwithstanding their fierce declarations and even fiercer protestations when asked or when pushed against the wall. I still have to see a politician who has wielded power so called who remained simple, unattached to wealth and position, and who used all their time to really serve the needs of the people they represent.
Is it possible to have it otherwise?
Christ says “yes.” The Lord shows us it is possible. It is possible to have power for service, and not power to oppress. For God’s Kingdom is not of this world.
The ancients understood it much better than we do. All power is associated with being a good shepherd, caring and solicitous for those under them. When they spoke of a King, they referred to one who leads them and brings them to greener pastures, like a shepherd would lead his flock to where there is abundant grass and water.
It is the feast of Christ the King. He is King, first in our hearts, and second in our human realm. He makes not oppressive demands. But He calls us to life … life in its fullness.
For, did I not tell you? His Kingdom shall last forever and ever.
And he or she who does not join this union of believers, might find himself or herself outside the gates. Let us put it this way … if the Philippines refuses to join APEC and its common dreams, we will find ourselves isolated.
Now is the time of salvation. Now is the hour for us to join the King in His service of love, not time for oppression. Blessed be Christ the King forever and ever!