HOMILY & IDEAS

Feast of Christ the King.

Turning Over Stones

If Christ is King, what is he King of? What is his kingdom all about?

When I was a Theology major at St. Anselm College, a number of my friends were CJ majors -- Criminal Justice. If you think priests who were once seminarians are characters, you should get a load of my now-police-officer-and-state-trooper-friends who were once CJ majors! They were a wonderful, crazy, spontaneous, loyal bunch of guys who really did want to change the world by being the good guys who protected the public against the bad guys.

On Wednesday nights they would all gather a few doors down from my dorm room and watch COPS. This was one of those shows that followed real life cops making arrests and drug busts. I could always tell when the bad guys finally got theirs because the hoopla and hollering would bounce down the hallway in a frenzy.

Occasionally I would stop in for a study break and because I was a brother good guy that simply played on a neighboring team, they would let me sit for a while. I remember watching the moments leading up to a major drug bust somewhere in California where ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) and FBI officers were positioning themselves for the surprise charge into the house and my CJ-major-friend said, You can always tell who the good guys are, Jim . . . they all wear the navy blue jackets with the large yellow letters, ATF or FBI on the back . . . they are the good guys . . . they are awesome!

I never forgot what he said because I often thought of what letters would appear on my navy blue jacket in my line of work. Some time ago, I decided that they would be, BOK. I like that combination because it is an acronym and it is also a message that it is all going to B-OK because we are in the hands of God.

In fact, today in this church we would all wear these navy blue jackets with BOK on them, because we are all Builders Of the Kingdom. And although we do not know fully what the kingdom is, or exactly when it is, we know that there is joy in being one of its builders. We would be one of the good guys with the big yellow BOK on our backs.

The kingdom of God. What is it -- and when is it? This phrase appears over 80 times in the Gospels; yet these questions do not have simple answers.

What is it? We do know that it is something to strive for. It is more difficult to enter it if you are rich. It is easier to get into it if you are childlike. It is good news was proclaimed by Jesus and his disciples. It belonged to the poor, the humble, and those persecuted for the sake of righteousness. It has humble beginnings and grows like seed and yeast. It is not here or there but rather it is among us.

When is it? In the Gospel we hear that it is at hand. It is among us now. It already belongs to certain groups of people. Yet we pray that it comes when we pray the Our Father. Jesus says that when it does come it will not be preceded by things that can be observed. It is something to be entered into with varying degrees of difficulty depending on your desire to do the will of God, and when Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for the body of Jesus, it is noted in scripture that Joseph was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.

We are still left with some questions, huh? We have not answered exactly what it is, or exactly when it is. That is pretty remarkable considering its importance in scripture -- and its importance in our lives.

The Gospel gives us some more insights into the Kingdom of God -- and it raises some more questions too.

The Kingdom of God is likened to a treasure which a person happens upon in a field. Items of great value were oftentimes buried during times of crisis and insurrection. Perhaps he was a hired hand plowing a field, removing stones, or digging a well when he stumbled upon this great treasure. In any event, he finds what he was not necessarily looking for and knows immediately that he must possess it even if it means selling everything he has. To him it is not a risky or anxious purchase -- in fact he does it out of joy.

The Kingdom of God is likened to a pearl -- in the time of Jesus an object ranked with gold as a symbol of wealth. In this story the merchant knows exactly what he is searching for: fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of such extraordinary beauty that he feels he can not live without, he sells all that he has -- his entire inventory of valuables -- in order to have this very costly pearl.

So what have we learned?

Sometimes, like the man in the field, you find the Kingdom of God without looking for it, and you discover with joy that it is something you must have.

Sometimes, like the merchant, the very thing you look for -- the Kingdom of God -- is the very thing you find, and when you discover it you sell all that was valuable to you in order to have it.

In both cases, it appears that it can be found in this life, but perhaps not in its fullness -- not what is to be entered into at the end of time. We see glimpses of it now, but we, like Joseph of Arimathea, wait for the fullness of the kingdom to come.

What we have not answered is exactly what the Kingdom of God is. What is it that we can catch a glimpse of here and now on earth. What did they find? What is it they saw?

What I want to know is what did the man in the field find that filled him with such joy and excitement that he went out and blindly sold everything he had to buy that field.

I want to know that joy -- that excitement. I want to be filled with it.

So what is it?

I think it is simply this: If the fullness of the Kingdom at the end of time is when we live in that perfect world that God had intended us to live in, where social hierarchies do not exist, where there is no class or ethnic discrimination, where there exists an unquestioning trust in God and his providence, where all people operate with selfless love of others, where love conquers sin, where wholeness conquers sickness, where peace conquers suffering, where life conquers death, where hope conquers despair, where redemption conquers damnation, where fellowship conquers loneliness, then our glimpses are glimpses of these things here and now.

There is joy in finding the Kingdom, and their is joy in helping to build it -- and build it, we do -- every day. You and me.

We proudly wear our BOK jackets whenever we fight against discrimination, whenever we trust completely in God, whenever our selflessness conquers selfishness, whenever our love overcomes sin and our faith overcomes suffering. We proudly wear our BOK jackets when our hope conquers despair and our fellowship conquers loneliness.

When our bereavement ministers here in our parish visit homes after a loved one has died to offer comfort and a helping hand, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our CYC group stands out among their peers as a cohesive, Christian group of young men and women who treat each other with respect as they engage in service projects at food and homeless shelters, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When married couples come forward to help prepare engaged couples for marriage, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our ministers to the elderly and the homebound visit home bringing love, compassion, company, and Eucharist, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our liturgical and music ministers work so hard to provide beautiful liturgies, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our pro-life ministers work to protect life at all stages, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our religious education ministers assist parents in building a solid foundation of faith for their children, we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

When our St. Vincent De Paul Society bring assistance to families in need of financial assistance, food or clothing, we see a glimpse of the kingdom of God.

Be a BOK and I guarantee that everything is going to B-OK.

We also had CYC shirts made recently. On the front the shirt simply reads CTKCYC (Christ the King Catholic Youth Council), and on the back it reads -- Friend of the King. This is another reminder of who we need to be a friend of and how we are to keep this friendship alive.

Oftentimes the charitable actions stated above seem like band-aids on massive problems of poverty around the world. However, we need to keep the individual in focus. There is a great scene at the end of Schinders List where the character played by Ben Kingsley states that on the inside of the ring that they give Oscar Schindler is written -- When one saves one life, he saves the whole world.

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