a 17 year old boy in a deep coma was admitted to the hospital.
With one look, the neurosurgeon on duty announced:
“He won’t live until morning –
and it’s a good thing, because he’d be a vegetable.
Thankfully, a seasoned nurse named Nancy judged otherwise.
She did what she had done for patients in similar conditions for 30 years”
she talked to the boy, played his favorite music, made simple requests of him.
The boy did live through until the morning.
Before long, he was able to make small movements.
Strangely, he would not respond at all when that doctor was in the room.
Eventually, he recovered to the point that he was discharged and went home.
Some time later, he returned to the hospital floor to offer thanks to nurse Nancy.
When she mentioned the neurosurgeon, the young man replied,
“Yes, I remember him calling me a vegetable. I wouldn’t move for him.”
It was a love that made him move.
It was the encounter with a loving person that opened the door to new life.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The preface of today’s Mass calls to our minds the hallmarks of Christ's Kingdom:
It is an eternal and universal kingdom…
a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love, and peace.
Christ the King is not a politician or a secular governor.
His kingdom is not like Pilate’s or Caesar’s…it is not about earthly power…
it is not of this world.
First of all, Christ's kingdom is a kingdom of love
and He exemplifies His kingship in His Paschal Mystery.
He empties Himself of self-concern…divests Himself of earthly riches…
strips himself of glory…
in order to open His arms in love on the Cross.
When His passion is complete…
as the Psalmist declares…He is robed in majesty, girt about with glory…
and…as the Prophet Daniel foretells…
is presented with an everlasting dominion.
His power is revealed in weakness…
not in armies and thrones and splendid palaces…
but in a rugged wooden Cross, a crown of thorns, and a robe of blood.
His power is revealed not in defiance but in obedience to the Father.
It was love that moved Him…
moved Him to stand strong before Pilate…
moved him to walk the lonely road to Calvary.
moved Him to lay down His life on the Altar of the Cross,
in the one perfect sacrifice that brought life to the world.
Self-emptying…humility…obedience…this is true love…
and it is on the foundation of love that Christ establishes His kingdom.
In Christ, human paradoxes are re-defined.
Obedience brings freedom. Humility ends in glory. Death gives life.
Christ's kingdom of love is victorious!
The Book of Revelation recalls for us that Christ has made us into a kingdom.
The kingdom of Christ exists perfectly only in Heaven…
but each of us…by our Baptism…has been drawn into the kingdom
and invited to share even now in the mission of Christ…a mission of love.
It is love that moves us to accept that invitation to share the mission of Christ.
Love moved Christ to surrender Himself, and His love transforms death to life.
Christ’s love in us moves us, His servants, to surrender ourselves in His image.
The kingdom in which we share with Christ is also a kingdom of truth.
“For this I was born and for this I came into the world,” Jesus declares to Pilate,
“to testify to the truth.”
In Christ's kingdom, truth and love are inseparable.
God loved us so much that He sent His Son to reveal the truth to us…
the truth of God…the truth about ourselves…and of God’s plan for us.
Jesus’ love extends far beyond His earthly ministry.
He sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles at Pentecost as the Paraclete, the Advocate,
who would lead the Church into all truth.
The Spirit continues to reveal truth to us through the teaching of the Church,
as a living sign of God’s constant loving presence.
We trust in Christ and in His Church, for she reveals the truth anew in every age.
When Jesus stands before Pilate, He appears as the faithful witness to the truth,
not giving up, not backing down,
but testifying to the truth even when it means the Cross.
Christ's love in us moves us to witness to the truth in every time and place.
For this we were born…baptized…
and sent into the world according to our unique vocations.
God did not give Moses “The Ten Suggestions”
and Jesus did not teach His disciples “The Great Possibility.”
Commandments are a hard sell these days,
but the profit in Heaven is well worth the effort here and now.
In the midst of a culture that has largely embraced indifferentism,
and that is afraid of absolutes,
we are invited to be faithful witnesses to the truths of God,
the truth that does not bind but instead that sets us free.
Sometimes this will mean the Cross for us…
sometimes it is uncomfortable, unpopular, demanding.
And yet, being afraid to speak out against injustice and false teaching,
or allowing lies to remain unanswered is not true love.
As Saint Paul writes, “Love rejoices in the truth!”
Therefore we rejoice in the truth, for we are called by God to be people of love.
What a shame that love did not move Pilate!
Political expediency and the fear of Caesar’s wrath held him back
and he turned away from Jesus…from His love and truth.
That is not so with us.
Love has moved us…
moved us to enter into a relationship with Jesus
moved us to prayer, to worship, to witness
moved us to journey here to this Altar…
where we encounter the loving person of Jesus Christ.
That 17 year old boy was moved by love…both physically and spiritually.
He who was thought to be dead…at best expected to be a “vegetable”…
was restored to life through an encounter with one patient loving person.
Jesus, who was thought to be dead, is once again alive and He is with us here.
We encounter the loving person of Jesus.
We are grateful for the love of Jesus…love that moves us
to accept the invitation to share in the mission of His kingdom of love
and to witness to the truth that makes all people free.
The love of one person can do remarkable things…can work miracles.
The love of all of us…united in Jesus Christ…and founded on the truth of God…
is the dominion of the Church that conquers all obstacles,
transforms lives, saves souls, and endures forever!