Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Boss of Me

Read in this light, the prophetic text leads to one conclusion: we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life.

If such were faith, King Ahaz would be right not to stake his life and the security of his kingdom on a feeling. But precisely because of its intrinsic link to truth, faith is instead able to offer a new light, superior to the king’s calculations, for it sees further into the distance and takes into account the hand of God, who remains faithful to his covenant and his promises.
Lumen Fidei 24

Reflection – Happy Feast of Christ the King. So it is the conclusion of the Year of Faith, and so the last installment (for now, anyway) of this encyclical on the blog. It is a fitting paragraph to go with this feast and this mystery of the kingship of Christ.

Christ as God, Christ as Savior, Christ as Shepherd, Teacher, Healer… all of these are magnificent titles, all of them true of course in themselves. But all of them, I would suggest, can get a little ‘up there’ for us, a little pie in the sky-ish, a little vague and remote. They’re not, really, but from our poor human point of view, they can become that.

But Christ as King? This means, in our modern terms, ‘Christ as Boss’. At the pro-abortion rights counter-demonstration to the Ottawa March for Life this year, one of the signs read, ‘God, you’re not the boss of me!’ To celebrate Christ the King means that Jesus is the boss of me (and of the whole universe besides) and that this is a joyous happy reality.

In other words, not only can I build my life securely on the promises of God in Christ and the way of life he lays out for me in the Gospel, but I must do so. Not because Jesus or the Father is up in heaven with a big stick ready to bash my head in if I show signs of rebellion. Christ is King, not Fuhrer.

But He is really King, the eternal King, the One King of all that is. The whole universe is ordered by the Lordship of Christ, and it is a lordship of love, goodness, gentleness, mercy, and joy. If I reject that Lordship, I reject everything that is really real, really good, really leading me to life and joy and peace.

Well, that’s faith. But it is a faith that only works if it is, in fact, true. If there is no Jesus, or if Jesus was just some good guy 2000 years ago, or maybe was one of many ‘healers’ or ‘teachers’ sent by God (whoever that is), or whatever variation on that theme we care to consider, then there is no point building my whole life on Him, on His promises, His act of salvation, His way of life that opens us for me.

Christian faith is not a head trip or a feeling, some vague nice idea that gets us through the cold dark night but has nothing to offer to clear light of day. It is a simple, sober decision that what we read, what we hear, what has been presented to us about Jesus by the living tradition of the Church is TRUE, and so we can shape our whole life to it.

And of course, since the truth presented to us is far beyond what our puny human efforts can attain, faith also walks hand in hand with mercy. He is a merciful King, and when we fail to live as His subjects, as I certainly do multiple times every day, faith bids me seek that mercy, and try again.
So happy feast day to you! May the Kingship of Christ bring you joy today, and may it be your light for the way and your confidence and hope.

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