Elections & Christ the King

christtheking2013It is felicitous that every year we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday in October. For commonly, at this time every two years, national elections are in our minds, on our lips, and in our prayers. And those elections may produce in many us either hope or trepidation for the future of our nation. The purpose of this feast, however, is to remind that we are sojourners on earth, and that our true citizenship is in heaven; that we are partakers, with the Saints, in the Kingdom of Our Lord, not by clamoring for rights, but by inheriting what we once rejected; and that Christ our King rules, not in a spirit of fairness, but in a spirit of mercy; and that He illustrates to us not the violence borne of pride, but the peace and unity borne of true humility.

Too often we forget, or even ignore, that we are called to be in, but not of, the world. And when we forget, then our emotions run on the waves of the latest news cycle; and our mouths run off about the latest October surprise. When that happens, we are simply acknowledging that we take too much stock in the empty peace that the world promises, and that we are overlooking the Price of Peace who surpasses all our understanding.

In His words to Pilate, which you heard, Our Lord wants us to recall that His kingdom is not about accumulating or fearing the loss of wealth, or pride, or human rights, or even our self-serving ideas of freedom and equality. Rather, Our Lord wants us to recall that the kingdom we should truly desire, and the Leader we should really pin all our hopes to, is the One who humbly stands before us in His Church, dispensing gifts that effect the resurrection of our bodies, and life in the world to come.

No politician can offer us these things, even though these are the things that matter most. For is there anything more important than the sturdy promise that death is not the end? And that you will live through death in a better world? And that your life, even now, is based on a war you did not fight, a victory you did not win, an inheritance you could not obtain?

Again, no politician can offer us these things. And Christ Himself is no politician. For politicians employ tactics which conveniently ignore basic truths and make untenable promises. But Christ our King employs the most unthinkable tactic: humility to the point of death, even the death of the cross. And this He does, not for His sake, but so that He might rescue us from our self-delusions and restore us to our Father.

That our true citizenship is not here means that we do not need to fear what will happen next week or next month or next year. For our King, by His death, has already protected us from the worst. And by the prayers of His Saints, Christ our King continually sends His holy angels to guide us safely through the worst this world offers to the best, which is Himself and His gifts.

On the other hand, although this is really not our kingdom, we live here and, for the most part, must participate in life here—including politics and elections. But we do so, not as if our life depends upon it. We do so, instead, in the same way that Christ our King submitted to Pilate; in the same way that Apostles and martyrs interacted with the hostile governments of their day.

We participate, not fearing the outcome, but in order to bear witness that life—true life rooted in Life Himself—is found here, in the Church; and then lived for others, in the world. We participate in this world in order to bear witness that the true life is not about winners and conquerors, but is about unselfish service and unrelenting love. We participate in this world in order to bear witness that all our lives matter little unless we live the life Christ lives in us and through us. We participate in this world in order to bear witness that Truth Himself has done away with all need for deceptions and lies and posturing. And we participate in this world in order to bear witness that the abundance of life is not found in the stuff we grab or have, but in the One who has given us all things.

For, you see, that is what causes our fear: when we forget that in Christ all things consist and all Life lives; and that He has already given us all things; because in Him we live, and move, and have our being. When we remember this—when we remember that, however, the election goes, Life continues to love us into His kingdom—then we can begin to live without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.

And when we remember this, then we will not only strive to do better. We will also begin to reorder our life—what we value, what goals we set, how we use our time, and so then how we live. For our goal ought not be to be a winner. Our goal is to attain the fullness of the kingdom of heaven. And our goal ought not be to taste and experience all we can of the pleasures that fade and corrupt, but to taste and see that the Lord is good. And our goal ought not be to live life to the fullest, but to attain the fullness of life, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us therefore give thanks by longing for the Holy Eucharist, and by living lives befitting those who have ingested Christ and who thereby live in Him. For the Mass is our true kingdom, and the Eucharist is the way we rejoice in Christ our King. And in this way, which is our deepest gratitude and most profound thanksgiving, we show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

To this Lord Jesus Christ, who is our King and our God, together with His Father in union with the all-holy and life-giving Spirit, belongs all glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.