Holy Spirit Sets a True Course
Feast of Christ the King
November 23, 2014
Mid-term elections are behind us…finally! As our nation watches a tragically unproductive session of Congress come to a close, it seems fair to say that the majority of Americans are road-weary from the gridlock that has characterized our government in recent years. We are certainly looking forward to a fresh start, but is there really any reason to hope things will change? The only element of our society that seems to benefit from this constant clash of philosophies, ideologies, and even personalities is the press. In fact, even the press has divided itself into camps. Rather than simply reporting facts, journalists are inflaming passions with biased reports from both sides of the aisle. It’s sad!
What is sad as well…and possibly even sinful…is that our Church seems to be experiencing the same deep divisions. You certainly get that impression from the secular press reporting on the October meeting of Bishops. The media seems to almost delight in broadcasting the diverse opinions expressed during the first meeting of the synod committed to the challenges Christian families are struggling with during this 21st century. Particular glee colored the reports of a comment attributed to an American Cardinal who is purported to have likened the Church under Pope Francis to “a ship without a rudder.”
This Sunday, like the past two, we step out of Ordinary Time to celebrate something special. On November 2, All Souls Day, we recalled how our Church is a union that cannot be divided even by death. Those who have gone before us benefit from and depend upon our prayers, and, in return, intercede for us. Last Sunday was the anniversary of the dedication of the “Mother Church,” St. John Lateran in Rome. That Feast offers an opportunity to consider our long, unbroken history. We are built on the strongest of foundations with Christ as our Cornerstone. Tracing our lineage back to this first place dedicated to public Christian worship is strong evidence of our unity and endurance.
This week, we mark the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Today, we image The Lord as a sovereign. Christ rules over all creation in a benevolent and loving way. It is Christ’s hand on the tiller, steadying and guiding the ship. And even as Christ charts our course through salvation history, it’s the Holy Spirit who fills our sails and propels us toward our final destination.
This Sunday’s Gospel offers a vivid description of the course that The Lord has charted for us as the Church moves through time toward eternity. The Holy Spirit carries us directly into the seas of need. As we pass through among the poor, the marginalized, the desperate…we should not simply observe what surrounds us, but through the Holy Spirit, we are called to reach out! We are called to take our hand OFF the wheel, confident that Christ our King, our Captain, our Shepherd, is guiding us into the waters where we need to be at any given point in salvation history…in order to be productive. The Holy Spirit sets a true course, and our duty is not to control the direction, but to serve those whom we encounter on our journey.
And so, as we bring this liturgical year to a close, our Readings make a clear distinction between the Church and state. In spite of the differing opinions, philosophies, ideologies, and personalities we bring to the Communion Table, we are unified by our shared belief in Jesus Christ…King of the Universe, who rules with compassion, mercy, and unconditional love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will endure whatever forces attempt to divide us. If there is an aisle that separates us, it is that some seek to control…while others commit only to serve…especially those in greatest need. For their efforts, they will be greatly rewarded!
Next Sunday, The Church can move into the season of Advent and begin a new liturgical year filled with hope…because it is Christ, our loving and gentle King, who is in control!