Saturday, November 21, 2015

we need this King

34th and Final Sunday in Ordinary Time
Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe
20/21 November 2015

Fr. Zarse is old.  I think he confessed as much last weekend in his homily.  In high school, he didn't fit in.  He couldn't stand how impulsive and shallow his peers were.  I know he is 29 years old and our 'baby priest' - and I know he has incredible preaching talent and amazing zeal for the faith, and many of you have remarked he is wise beyond his years, but it's true - trust me I'm his roommate.  He can be really old.

We were driving down to the Hayden game this Friday, and no we will not talk about the outcome of that game.  The topics of MMA fighting among women and sexting among teens came up.  Fr. Zarse could not understand either phenomenon.  Why would any two women go into a ring and pulverize each other for entertainment, and why would anyone watch it, and why would any teen send indecent photos of themselves by text for all to copy and see?  It was beyond his comprehension.  I know most of you agree with him - it's crazy what's going on in our culture.

I had to chuckle at him.  Fr. Zarse is a classical guy.  Post-modern man befuddles him.  Let me attempt the same explanation for you that I attempted for him.  Postmodern man is desperately and with great futility trying to replace God, and is making himself miserable in the process.  Man is made for God.  Man is at his best when he enters into that incomparable and transcendent adventure of pursuing God, the source of all love, life, goodness, truth and beauty, with all his heart and mind and strength.  When this adventure and pursuit is absent however, man become pathetically desperate.  His only other alternative to pursuing God is to become a God himself.  If even only for 5 seconds, we are desperate to become a God, even if it means becoming the meanest, most violent and savage woman on the planet, the Queen of the MMA ring, or seeking transcendence by sending the most unique and provocative photo ever.  We either pursue God or we try to replace Him.

Such is postmodernism which sees no need for God, no need to follow in obedience with others a Church that points them toward transcendent happiness, no need to worship anything but themselves. The greatest religious phenomena we see now is not conversions to the Catholic Church, nor great converts to atheism, but a growing body of NONES.  These are those people who just don't care -they are in your family and mine.  They are those who pretend it is impossible to know if there is a God, and to settle for whatever meaning they are able to create for themselves.  It usually hits our ears like this - I don't need to go to Church to be a good person.

That's true - you can be good for no reason, but if this is your reality, then you have no reason to continue being good.  It is the height of pride to know that we are not the authors of our own existence, that the universe and us are completely unnecessary, to know for certain that in the backdrop of all history and the scope of the universe, that none of us count as more than a speck of sand, and yet to make yourself the center of the universe by saying I can find meaning and do good by myself, for no reason, without any reference or abiding connection to a source of truth or goodness.

There are the self-proclaimed 'brights' in our society who pretend to be smarter than religious people . The brights say that us religious pretend to know the source of truth and goodness when we really don't.  These same 'brights' however, can not provide a single reason why anyone should listen to them.  If we are only random matter and energy, and all free will is an illusion, it does no good to try to convince someone else that what you are saying is more true.  At best, it's a futile effort, since matter and energy can't freely change their behavior.  At worst, it is inviting people to an illusion much more destructive than religion, to tell people to base their lives only on scientific truth, when the brights can provide no evidence other than their assumption on faith, that the universe can be understood.  To try to make a truth claim that all reality is just random matter and energy is circular and self-contradictory.

In the end, all people must put their faith in something.  All people must be obedient to something.  We are not the center of the universe nor the source of our own existence, nor the source of truth and meaning.  We all must worship something. I'm sorry, there is no other way.

Then there are those, of course, who are lazy enough to assert that religion is what leads people astray and is the greatest source of evil.  Without a doubt, false religion is a great evil that must be stopped.  ISIS, for example, must be stopped.  But to say that religion is the source of evil and the world would be happier without religion is the height of laziness . . any honest look at history will show that the values that elevate man to his greatest freedom and happiness, are values that have been delivered to modern man and culture by religion, by people pursuing God, the source of goodness, truth and beauty, with all their heart and mind and strength.  I guarantee you with all my heart, without Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, the world would have destroyed itself many times over!

To say with atheists that the only meaning that is real is the meaning that we create for ourselves is the most absurd and offensive thing that can be said.  Sure a high-level college professor who enjoys respect, reputation and lives a secure life can say that he can create the meaning of his own existence.  But how negligent and cruel is it to assert such a thing, when legions of human persons who are suffering famine, illnesses, disabilities, injustice and the lack of education have no such luxury of constructing the meaning of their own existence?

It is much more straightforward and honest to say that the yearning man has for the transcendent, the attraction that he has for truth, goodness and beauty, his insatiable desires, and the free will that is readily apparent to him, are not illusions, but have a source and a fulfillment.  This weekend we proclaim that the source of all truth, goodness and beauty, and the fulfillment of every human desire, is a person - Jesus Christ - the King of all the universe!

The universe is not necessary.  We are not necessary.  Much less so did God have to reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  But not only did God reveal Himself - He humbled Himself beyond our imagination.  The King of Kings before demanding our worship and obedience at the end of our lives and the end of the universe, was first the helpless baby born in completely poverty out in the cold - He is first the innocent lamb slain to take away the sins of the world.  My dear friends - we do not have a King that we reluctantly worship because we have no other choice - we have a gorgeous and magnanimous King who would rather beg to be King of our hearts than demand it, so desperately in love with us in this King.

This is the King who will one day judge each one of us and the universe.  We could not ask for a more merciful judge.  He is the one who with His almighty hand will straighten out the injustices of history - inviting to His kingdom first those that the world considered least - the poor, the lonely, the meek, the long-suffering.  How can we not be ready in an instant to thrown down our lives before the throne of this King, and beg Him to be the King of our hearts?

Bow down before this King, not because you have to, but because you want to with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.  For He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the reason we live, and the one for whom we are ready to die!  All glory laud and honor, now and forever, to Jesus Christ our Sovereign King, who is the world's salvation!