Peace and Grace to all!
This Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is an appropriate finale to the end of the liturgical year and it reminds us of the principality of Christ and his universal power and authority over all that is: both visible and invisible. This celebration should have some personal significance for each of us in our relationship with Jesus, who is King of Mercy.
As we celebrate this feast, I recall my visit to the monument known as “Cristo Rey” in Guanajuato, Mexico. I traveled with some companions to the shrine to pray for special needs and to offer praise and thanks for the many blessings that I had received from God. I wasn’t expecting anything but the chance to see the 70 foot statue of Jesus, which resembles that of the famous statue overlooking Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The statue in Guanajuato was erected as part of the reconstruction of this site following the communist persecution and destruction in the 1930’s. Many Christians were martyred defending the faith as well as this shrine during this period in Mexico. The movie For Greater Glory presents many of the atrocities committed against the Church’s priests, religious and faithful while focusing on a few key historical figures.
The confrontation between Jesus and Pilate in the Gospel depicts worldly power and how it is usually corrupted by selfish interests is paralleled by the characters in the movie. The heavenly kingdom reaches far beyond the here and now of the worldly view. It is stronger and more beautiful for it values mercy, truth, justice and peace more than temporal wealth and power. Like the characters in the Gospel and the movie, we must contend with the same forces in our own lives. We can sink into selfishness, greed, lust, envy, or any other worldly allurement. Many try to compromise only to find themselves succumbing to corruption—like Pilate. For Jesus and the faithful in the movie, there was no compromising. Like them, we are called to rise above worldly forces and stand for something far greater and far more glorious. We are called to take a stand for the heavenly kingdom with its eternal values and rewards with what we say, think and do which is still heroic. What a great choice to make!
When my companions and I rounded a bend and stood before the statue at the summit of the hill, I was compelled within to kneel, while my eyes began to swell with tears—I can’t explain why. Before my companions and I stood the large figure of Jesus standing upon the globe with his arms outstretched as if he were calming the sea. I had the sensation that Jesus wanted me to feel his power and peace calming my soul. As I glanced at my companions, I realized from the tears in their eyes that Jesus was giving them the same gift of this experience. After some moments passed, we smiled at each other through tears in acknowledgement of the experience we each had. At such times, there are no words so we remained silent, kneeling in awe and gratitude before Jesus, our true King! As Christians, we can be so glad and proud that we know God as a loving, merciful and tender ruler! Although we journey in a world torn with sin and chaos, Jesus preserves our hearts in peace. May God bless you all! +++ Fr Peter