Solemnity of Christ the King – November 21, 2021

Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King brings another Church year to a close.  And not unlike the reflections that we often share as the calendar approaches December 31st, today is as good a day as any for us as faithful souls to reflect and to give thanks for having survived the many challenges that have confronted our world and our lives this past year and beyond.

Consider what we’ve faced individually and as a people for the last year and a half.  We continue to wage war with the coronavirus, even as it appears that we may be succeeding in our efforts to overcome this dreaded enemy.  …  During the course of the virus’ march around the world and into our lives, some of us have faced health challenges and even death.  …  As if a once-in-a-century pandemic were not enough, however, our country has been plagued by natural disasters:  wildfires in the west and hurricanes and floods in the south and east.  …  Earthquakes have devastated some of the poorest lands in the world.  …  And random mass shootings and violence have become so commonplace that they no longer garner the lead stories on the nightly news.

Yet – as is always the case – in the midst of evil, hatred, pain and suffering, the hope filled presence of selfless, loving hearts treasuring life and seeking to restore goodness always seem to emerge, don’t they?  Health care workers, first responders and law enforcement officers less concerned about their own safety than about the well-being of those they had been charged to protect, skilled medical professionals, patient and gifted counselors, compassionate volunteers and countless numbers of selfless, peaceful souls who treasure life and seek to alleviate suffering stand at the ready to respond in all sorts of ways to bring about healing, to foster hope and to rebuild lives.

There is a profound lesson found in so many of the struggles facing our world today – a lesson that we’ve heard many times before but so often forget.  For all of our abilities and creative efforts, evil, hatred, pain and suffering are still very much a part of our world and our lives, aren’t they?  But the good news is that they never win!  The power and presence of God is mightier than the darkest of moments.  Goodness and life always triumph.

The greatest force for goodness that gives us hope emerges within human hearts touched by God.  That’s where the kingdom of God is to be found.  It’s built not by deals among the power elite but by compassionate hands.  Christ reigns neither by influence nor wealth but through selfless lives of faith eager to serve, to nurture and preserve life, and to work for justice, love and peace.

Today’s gospel teaches us this reality, ironically, through its description of Jesus’ most humiliating moment:  his appearance before Pilate.  It is an extraordinary exchange, isn’t it?  While Pilate holds Jesus’ life in his hands, he has no idea what Jesus was talking about when he speaks about “truth” or a kingdom built of compassion, humility and justice.  That was well above Pilate’s pay grade.

Recall the words of Jesus from today’s gospel.  “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  …  Remember that the voice of Jesus, as spoken to us today, comes from the cross – the total sacrifice and gift of himself – given for our life and salvation.  …  A cross that saves.  …   And a cross that proclaims the truth as it lays the foundation blocks of the kingdom of God and teaches us how to live as authentic disciples in service to one another.

On this day in which we open our hearts to Christ our King, may we give thanks for having confronted and survived the countless numbers of challenges that have become a part of our personal stories especially during the past few years.  …   May we confidently place in God’s care the many prayers and intentions that we hold within our hearts, trusting in his love and compassionate will for our lives.  …  And may we entrust our lives to the truth of the life of Jesus, believing that in so doing, as Pope Francis has noted, “we will come to know God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful to others as the Father has been merciful with us.”