Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ's Kingship an "Organic" Kingship

At the end of every liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. One of the reasons for this is to etch into our awareness that Jesus is Lord of all, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things. When we speak of Christ as a "King" we mean something radically different than what is normally associated with royalty. Christ's Kingship is integral and universal in scope. Christ's Kingship is integral because it is the unifying and vivifying principle at the heart of all creation and life itself. Christ's Kingship is also universal in the sense that there is not a single creature or event (to include death itself) that is not in some way affected either directly or indirectly by Christ.

To use a term that has become increasingly popular in the last several years, it would be very accurate to say that Christ's Kingship is "organic" in nature. It forms an integral part of creation and, of course, God's plan of salvation. The second reading from today's Mass from Paul's Letter to the Colossians is a "hymn" to Christ which dramatically illustrates the "organic" or "integral" character of Christ's Kingship. Paul states that, "For in him were created all things," "all things were created through him and for him," "in him all things hold together."

According to Paul's "integral" or "organic" way of seeing the mystery of Christ in all creation, there is not a creature that is not created through him, with him, and in him (think of the doxology of Mass, when the priest elevates the host above the chalice at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer and sings these same words!). Every creature is therefore grounded in Christ, dynamically related to Christ, and, in some mysterious way, destined for Christ. To refer back to the illustration I used for yesterday's blog (which is also pictured above), if life were conceived in terms of being a "web", the center that holds all things together and collectively animates them is Christ.

If we continue with the metaphor of Christ being the "organic" center of the web of life, the implications of this great celebration of Christ the King becomes more apparent. Christ as King or "organic" center implies that our lives and world are held together by the Lord even when faced with the greatest threats to their integrity and unity. The web of our world and lives have perhaps never been so strained or even broken as now. Our world faces the threat of economic collapse largely because of flawed and arrogant philosophies of "unlimited growth," our climate is changing for the worse, the disparity between rich and poor is growing and the middle-class is shrinking, wars and genocide continue scarring the earth - life seems to be hanging on by the barest of threads in so many areas. On a more personal level, who of us have not been touched by the ravages of abuse or neglect of one kind or another, failed relationships, betrayal of trust, dysfunctional family dynamics, and many other threats besides? How is it that we hang on?

Maybe this Feast Day is precisely about recognizing that it's not so much "we" who hang on, but Christ who hangs on to us. With Christ as King and "organic" center of our lives and world, he hangs on to us when our lives hang on by the barest of threads! Even when we succumb to deep distress or maybe even despair, Christ can reach and hang onto us even there. For, the Lord who is King of Life, by virtue of dying and rising, is also King over death! All we are invited to do this day is to begin recognizing Christ's Kingship over our world and invite him to be more and more King and center of our lives. When we begin doing this more deliberately, Christ "through us, with us, and in us" can begin healing and restoring the web of life that is our lives, our relationships, and our world. Pat, TOR