When you hear that Sunday is the Solemnity of Christ the King, did your mind flash back to the springtime wedding of William and Kate? They are a lovely couple and I wish them all the best in the world. It’s hard for them now, because William is in the Falklands for a month of training … no newly-weds like to be separated like that. We like them because they come close to our idea of what a modern king and queen should be like.
Of course, the quality of all kingship – of all leadership – is measured by how well the most vulnerable citizens are cared for. The Old and New Testaments have made that abundantly clear and representative passages are found in Sunday’s readings.
For the Old Testament prophets, for Jesus and for Paul, holiness is not to be found by engaging in long hours of prayer, saying the right things, going to daily Mass, doing the right things, making sacrifices, fasting and abstaining. Those practices help one to become holy, but are not themselves indicators of a person’s sanctity. I have known people who go to daily Mass and pray several times a day, but during the rest of the day they are not pleasant to be around. They complain about every little thing, make life difficult for others, rarely smile, and rarely volunteer for anything. Holy people? Hardly!
Jesus’ idea of holiness is found in Sunday’s Gospel. It has nothing to do with our religious practices, with the sacrifices we make, with toeing the religious line. Jesus looks for concrete actions that show we are putting his teachings into practice, and which show that we are using the graces of Mass and prayer to give life to others.
Service and prayer are like our two legs. When both are well, we walk through life peacefully and serenely. Shortchange or eliminate either one and we hobble through life.
Love deeply, laugh often, and pray faithfully!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.