A Boholano’s View December 27, 2015

A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva
The Bohol Chronicle
December 27, 2015

This is not my own “View” as a Boholano. As we were approaching this year’s celebration of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, it was my appreciation of the profound and compelling view of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, as told to us by Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA, that I received in the Internet on 17 November 2009. It is his view of “Jesus as Christ the King.”

I use Fr. Kirstein’s view of “Jesus as Christ the King” because, usually, as we approach our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25 we are overwhelmed by our secular ideas and materialistic feelings of Christmas parties and programs and the exchange gifts. Some of our songs on this occasion don’t even mention Jesus Christ, God the Son, and His mother, Saint Mary, our Mother Mary.

Here is the message of Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA.

“Christ, the King of the Universe. (Daniel 7.13-14: Revelation 1.5-8: John 18.33b-37)

“At one stage I worked in an African country where there were a number of different kinds of idolatry so-called. For some it was the worship of carved images they believed represented their gods. Others were termed animists because they were spirit worshippers worshipping the spirits of the river, the sun or the earth believing they gave them life and nourishment. Others still were voodoo worshippers and so on.

“We may think that idolatry belongs to these primitive peoples of the past only. We may feel we are superior with the great advances in modern science, medicine and technology but this is not so. Modern peoples have their idols too and how they worship these idols. Money is the most common idol today. But there are others – possessions, pleasure, drugs, alcohol, success, fame or power. Idolatry at best leads to a superficial life, and at worst to a debased life. But the greatest harm idolatry does is that it causes people to forget the true God.

We know too that people can also make idols of themselves. In dictatorships and in former communist states the leaders made idols of themselves, pictures, and statues etc. The leaders put themselves on pedestals. Then when communism collapsed many of the idols were pulled down and smashed, as was the case in Iraq with the statues on pedestals of Saddam Hussein.

Today in the gospel on the feast of Christ the Universal King we see a different image of a true leader. The vision of Christ the King and Lord of the universe as portrayed in the 2 first readings and Responsorial Psalm is one of great majesty and power; of glory and eternal dominion, of one who rules over an eternal and everlasting kingdom, a kingdom which can never be destroyed.

“But how different is that portrait to the one we find in the gospel, where Jesus, a prisoner of the Jewish authorities, is brought before Pilate to be interrogated by him. Here stands a man who is captive and helpless being questioned by a provincial political functionary of no great international importance.

“When Pilate questioned Jesus, ‘are you the King of the Jews?’ it was not as if he took the accusation seriously. He was curious to know what this man had to say for himself. In the encounter between the two it is obvious that Jesus is the one in command. There was a quiet authority about everything he said and did. We have to distinguish between authority and influence. Some people with great moral authority or spiritual power, like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, were quite powerless but still have great influence over others. Accordingly they don’t need to coerce others. So it was with Jesus. On the other hand political or military leaders like Pilate when in power depend on large armies to keep total control over their subjects. Pilate had power over people; Jesus had great influence over them.

What then are we celebrating when we pay homage to Christ the Universal King? If we take his life seriously, it had nothing to do with political power, economic might or earthly prestige. Indeed Jesus made this quite clear in his reply to Pilate’s question:’ my kingship is not of this world, if my kingship were of this world my servants would fight that I might not be handed over to the Jews, but my kingship is not of this world’.

It is obvious then that the Christ’s kingdom has nothing to do with power or politics. If Christ can lay claim to his kingdom, it can only be by a battle for the minds of men and women; a battle where truth will overcome the power of darkness which distorts our perception of ourselves and the world around us, a battle where love will overcome hatred and sufferings, the wars and all the evil and hurt causes by hatred. That is why in the Preface of today’s Mass, [Christ the King]we describe Christ’s kingdom as a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, peace and love.

We might well ask ourselves today: ‘where are we personally in all this?’ How do I work for peace, justice, truth and love? It is in our homes, our schools, our workplace, and our recreations where the struggle takes place. And we know it is not an easy struggle. That is why we need to pray often to the powerful Holy Spirit to help us to be true subjects of Jesus who are known, not just by what we say but above all by what we do. Sometimes it might give us a different emphasis if we speak about the reign of Jesus our Universal King in daily life.

Yet Jesus is not really our King unless we are consciously his subjects. He is not our King if we do not listen to him, love him, serve him, and follow him. He is not our King if we do not actively identify with the goals, the aims of his kingship. We come under his kingship not just because we are baptised or carry the name Christian or Catholic nor even because we involve ourselves in various religious activities. We can say we really belong to his kingship, as already said, when we try to walk with him, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel, when that Gospel spirit penetrates every facet of our living.

And we cannot really follow Jesus our King until we know him better. This requires more than just a nodding acquaintance with the Gospel and the New Testament. Prayer too is very important.

Finally we believe that Jesus is not only the King of Christians but Lord of the whole universe as the second reading tells us. But he is a very special kind of King and Lord. It is the responsibility of each one of us to get to know him better and to help others to know him better: a King who loves unconditionally a King who wants to be reconciled with the sinner, a King who wants to help and heal the sick and the weak a King who is humble and not proud, a King who wants to share his life with us – forever.

Lord Jesus, help us to allow you to be truly king in our own personal lives. Amen.”

Thank you so much, Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA
Jose “Pepe” Abueva

My gmail is pepevabueva@gmail.com

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