Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily – 25 November 2012 – Kingdom Come, Violence Go

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Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe B – November 25, 2012 – Kingdom Come, Violence Go

Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93:1,1-2,5; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37

The earliest images of Jesus Christ depicted him as a good shepherd. That understanding would gradually change once Christianity became a legitimate religion in the Roman Empire. The emperor who protected Christians from further persecutions took on a divine persona. To emphasize the mythical relationship between the emperor and God works of art eventually portrayed Jesus Christ as a judge, a ruler, a king. 

Today the Catholic Church, along with some other Christian religions, celebrates the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Historians tell us Pope Pius XI established this feast in 1925 to counter secularism and modernity. It was a grand effort to reestablish Christ as the sovereign of all creation. The title is such an oxymoron. The life of Christ was no where near that of a king so why do we celebrate the title? Why do we perpetuate the coronation with our songs and prayers?

The symbolic vision we hear about in the book of Daniel is one small part of a larger section that speaks about evil mythological kingdoms rising up from the sea — a classical theme. Scholars tell us the Book was written to console Jews who were being persecuted by larger kingdoms. The whole book insists on the sovereignty of God in Israel. The Christological spin on this passage is this: Christ’s kingly rule would replace the evil regimes on earth. [1]

The dialogue between Pilate and Jesus in John’s gospel is full of irony and innuendo. Pilate tried to get Jesus to say he was a king, a messiah. According to scholar Barbara Lundblad, “He [Pilate] needs to know because “king” is a political term, and Pilate is a political person.” [2] Jesus answered by saying his kingdom was not on earth and that he was testifying to the truth. What is the truth in this context?

The evangelist John redefined the kingship of Jesus. It is really not about kings as we know them. The writer claims that Jesus was the bearer of a divine revelation intended to transform people encouraging them to put others first. The word “truth” in this gospel refers to everything Jesus taught about restoring justice in the world.  It also reminds us that Jesus remained true to his  calling even in the face of death. The Christian realization of the “truth” manifested by Jesus may never be realized here on earth. All we can do is testify to the truth by our words and actions. [3]

Sadly, as history knows so well this manifestation of God on earth has not been very successful in eradicating evil from the world. Theologian James Bacik writes that violence is woven into the fabric of human relationships. [4] While there are many injustices perpetrated on humanity by ruthless individuals and despotic governments, today provides us with an opportunity to focus on one example — violence against women. 

Why emphasize violence against women? In 1999 the United Nations set today, November 25th, as the international day for the elimination of violence against women. The UN resolution notes that women do not fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. It expressed concern about the long standing failure to promote those rights and freedoms in relation to violence against women. [5]

The UN states that up to 70% of women experience some form of violence in their lifetime. [6] Statistics indicate that cruelty against women is a universal phenomenon and that women are subjected to different forms of brutality — physical, sexual, psychological and economic — both within and outside their homes. [7] 

These are the modern day beasts rearing their ugly heads from the seas placing women in exile, exploiting women in every way. Religions and governments like ours need to take note and act against such injustices. Politicians in Washington would set a good example by reauthorizing the (1994) Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to protect all persons from domestic violence and sexual assault.

You and I gather here in this hallowed place trusting that Christ has redeemed humanity, knowing fully well that this redemption is not yet complete. The Book of Revelation (our second reading today) is a call to action. It suggests that one effect of redemption is the creation of a faith community like this one that shares Christ’s kingly and priestly functions. All of us are called to be holy, baptized to make the world holy, summoned to eradicate demonic kingdoms so to reveal the kin-dom of God. 

Jesus was unwavering in being true to his calling. How true are we to ours?

______

1 Fuller, Reginald. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today (TheLiturgical Press. 1984, Revised Edition), 372-374.

2 Lundblad, Barbara. “A Different Kind of King” in http://odysseynetworks.org/news/onscripture-the-bible-john-18-33-37

3 Lawless, Tony in Catholica. www.catholica.com.au

4 Bacik, James. November Reflections, Toledo, OH, 2012

5 UN General Assembly Action, Resolution 54/134. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, December 17, 1999

6 Published by the UN Department of Public Information, DPI/2546A, November 2009

7 Source: The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. A study by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

One thought on “Homily – 25 November 2012 – Kingdom Come, Violence Go

  1. What an enormous tribute to the Reign of Christ, and the challenge to live fully and holy under the Kinship of Jesus. Dr. Vosko again simplifies the complex and interwoven threads of violence and justice that make my understanding of Christ’s mission (and mine!) so easy to understand…let the rule of justice and righteousness reign until God’s full redemption and restoration are complete. Ah…the beauty and power of keeping it simple! Magnificent homily, Sir!

    Like

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