HOMILY: A Kingdom Not of This World

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | November 21/22, 2015

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

Last weekend, I was visiting with a dear friend in northern Virginia.

She and I had originally met on a service trip to Camden, NJ.  We had been fellow idealists, convinced that we were members of the generation that would change the world.

And even when many of our friends moved into more traditional lines of work, we stayed true to our call.  I entered the ranks of urban educators, while she began working for a local food bank.

But as the years have worn on, the idealism has begun to fade.  The work is hard.  Change comes slowly.  And the setbacks are both real and extremely painful.

At one point in our conversation, she asked me an incredibly poignant question: “How have you not lost hope?”

This question stuck with me throughout this past week, especially in light of the incredibly difficult news that has been pouring in from seemingly all directions:

Hundreds are massacred in concert halls and restaurants in Paris, Hotels in Mali and crowded streets in Nigeria.

Fear, prejudice and hate seem to pervade our national discourse as an entire religion is demonized and innocent refugees become pawns in our own political games.

How have I not lost hope?

How have any of us managed to keep hope alive in a world that is seemingly always on the verge of madness?

These are difficult questions my friends.  But ones that I believe do have an answer.  An answer found in our very readings for this Sunday.

For as Christian people, we have a concrete source of our hope.

It is not found in an ideology or an institution, it is not in a set of ideals or a set of programs.  

It is in a person.

Jesus Christ the King.

Jesus Christ whose kingdom is not of this world.

Jesus Christ whose spirit is still alive and well, transforming the world through each of us who accept the call gifted to us at our baptism.  The call to be prophets.  The call to be disciples.  The call to be the face of Christ to the world.

But if we truly believe this to be true.  If we truly believe that Christ is our king.  Then we need to be willing to live with the values of God’s reign.

We need to realize that some of the values that our currently being held as the ultimate values by our society were never promised to us as followers of Christ.  We were never promised that we would always be safe and comfortable.  We were never promised that we would always be in control.

And in our attempts to do so.  In our futile attempts to build higher walls, to amass more guns, to shield our hearts from the world around us.  We only prevent ourselves from seeing the world as our God sees it.

Christ knew all of this my friends.

Just look at the Gospel from today.

Christ knew that the path that he would walk would be one of tremendous risk.  It would involve rejection and scandal.  It would involve misunderstanding and betrayal.  It would involve abandonment and ultimately a gruesome death.

And, yes, he knew how difficult, how frightening this would all be.

And yet, he still chose to take the risk.  Because it was only in risking it all that he was able to truly love.  It was only in his vulnerability that he was able to forge relationships with those whose guards were up, those who had been scarred by the trials and tribulations of this life, those who were on the outside looking in.  It was only in his being willing to die, to give up control over his own life that he gained for the world eternal life.

This is the king we follow my friends.

This is the king whose kingdom beckons to us.

Is this the kingdom to which we choose to belong?

Is this mission that we pledge our lives to?

Are we really willing to build up a kingdom at radical odds with the world in which we find ourselves?

A kingdom in which the stranger is welcomed, the enemy is forgiven, the other cheek is turned.

A kingdom in which the poor, the homeless, the sick, the suffering, the widow and the orphan are esteemed.

A kingdom in which power is gained through service, life is gained through surrender, and gain is only accomplished through losing all that the world holds as dear . . . our safety, our comfort, our power, our privilege, our wealth, our esteem.

A kingdom in which all are loved, without exception.

The task may seem daunting.  But be not afraid my friends.

For we may not be promised some things.  But we were promised many more.

We were promised that our God is with us.  That in the midst of our anxiety, we would find peace beyond our understanding.  That in the midst of our sorrow,  we will find comfort.  That in the midst of dying to self, we will find eternal life.

Christ our King still reigns, my friends.  Our hope still remains secure in him. Alleluia. Alleluia.

May God be Praised.

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