Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Morning Quarterbacking - Christ the King

Monday morning quarterbacking.  That long standing tradition during football season where people gather around the water-cooler on the Monday after the big game that weekend to provide their own analysis of the outcome.  Why not do that with Church?  So, here we go... Christ the King.

Now first I have to admit that the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe happens to be one of my favorite feast days.  Not only does it give a regal close to our Liturgical year, but it stands as a testament to the truth behind the journey we've been on for this entire Liturgical year:  That it is God who is above all others, and all of us others are equal to no one else but God.

This isn't a new idea.  In fact, it is a pretty consistent theme throughout all of scripture, and it is in those moments when we forget this lesson that we find ourselves, as a people and as a society, getting into trouble.  We forget that God is our king, and we start elevating others into positions of authority over us.  Eventually human weakness gives way to tyranny, which sparks a revolution that itself eventually gives way to tyranny.  Such was the case when Pope Pius XI sought to refocus our attention back to Christ as our one and only king.

As I noted in my posting for this past Sunday, the world was still recovering from the first World War.  Populist revolutions were sweeping the globe, tearing down long established models of governance and economics.  Unfortunately the tyranny of the monarchs they deposed was eventually replaced with even more tyrannical governments and despots, demanding above all else allegiance to their country and their rulers.  In his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI called us all to remember that above all else, it is Christ alone to whom we owe our allegiance.

During the homily for the Mass I attended, we were reminded that we needed to put Christ rightfully first in our lives.  We were reminded that there are many false gods calling us away from a healthy relationship with Christ... including wealth, celebrity, and our sense of self-importance.  That we are all equal under Christ, and we are all called to serve on behalf of Christ.  I'm sure there were many other homilies like this, but I have to wonder, how many were really listening?  How many were able to see the importance of this celebration?

Which takes me to the next section of my Monday morning quarterbacking... recognizing the truth when we hear it.  Or perhaps more accurately, recognizing the voice of God when we hear it.

When catechizing on the subject of prayer, I often tell people that if we want to hear God, we need to listen.  But here's the thing we need to recognize... we don't always know what voice, or who's voice God will use to get his message to us.  Chances are we're not going to hear God from a burning bush.  Instead, we need to be open, not only in our own heads, but to the world around us.

Take this morning, for instance.  Normally on the way to work I will be listening to NPR's Morning Edition, or when I need a break from the chatter I'll turn to Classical Music KUSC.  Every now and then, however, I just need an escape, so I'll turn to KROQ's Kevin & Bean show for some mindless humorous banter.  This morning was just such a morning...

During the 9:00 AM “Show Biz Beat” segment with Ralph Garman, Ralph was talking with Kevin and Bean about last night’s Kanye West concert in Sacramento where during the opening set, he stopped the music and went on a rant about how all these people were seemingly against him (Beyonce, Jay Z, Hillary Clinton, the media, etc.).  After his tirade he just walked off the stage, and shortly later it was announced that the remainder of his concert tour had been cancelled.  This incident got the hosts talking about Mr. West's apparent egomania, which got them talking about some larger issues.  Then the conversation turned to this:

Ralph (to Kevin and Bean):    Megalomania is running rampant in this country.  It’s like some sort of epidemic.  As if there’s a virus going… it’s the zombie apocalypse, but instead of The Walking Dead, we have "the walking arrogant."  It’s nuts!  I think we are descending into an era of self-worship that is going to be the downfall of our society.  I think we had no idea when selfies and... and social media and all that started that it would lead us down to a path of complete isolation and complete self absorption to the point where everything else is irrelevant but me and my feelings and what I want.

Bean:    I don’t think you’re exaggerating, Ralph.

Ralph:    I don’t think I am either.  I’m deadly serious about this...

Bean:    ...and when people write the history, as particularly of the 2016 election, they will say a part of the problem was that no one wanted to be exposed to anybody else or their ideas.  Everybody just wanted to stay in their own lane and screw the other guy.  And that’s partly how we ended up where we’re at.

Ralph:    ...and win at all costs:  The costs of the facts, the costs of other people, the costs of the country.  I need to win because I love me.

I was looking for some lighthearted fluff to get me through the morning commute, but somewhere along the way I heard the voice of God calling me back to our celebration of Christ the King.

Mind you, this is a very secular morning drive time show designed to give us humorous banter in-between their alternative rock playlist.  Yet when the truth comes across it's like hearing the prophet Amos railing against the kings of Israel and Judah.  This went far above party and politics (because it can be applied to both sides this past election season).  This went straight to the truth... that we have become so focused on ourselves, we have forgotten the bigger picture... that we are called to be humble and to serve one another, and that we all answer to a higher authority.

You never know when or where you might hear the voice of God.  I hope we're all listening.

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