The War on Christ

The War on Christ

(taken from Franciscan Action Network – FAN)

As we approach the end of the liturgical cycle this Sunday, we re-encounter the apocalyptic Gospel parable of the sheep and the goats. Apocalyptic writing, much like the harbingers of autumn, triggers our impending discomfort as the world transitions to a new reality. In our liturgical cycle, Jesus will be crowned King of the Universe, only after he “has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.” So that God may be all in all, even the power of death will be destroyed. If we begin to listen to the news cycle around this time, however, we might suspect that Christ’s sovereignty was somehow in jeopardy. This is the time when listeners just start to hear pundits speak about a so-called “War on Christmas” (as if the love of God’s Incarnation would cease if Nativity scenes were not allowed on government property). Some have already taken it upon themselves to capitalize on their heroic role in “Saving Christmas,” while others have claimed that with the encroachment of the Christmas shopping season, the real war is on Thanksgiving. At the risk of contributing one more distraction to the very real wars that are going on in the Middle East, I would like to consider a very real assault that is being waged on America’s least ones. This assault on the poor might aptly be called a “War on Christ.”

The Sunday readings remind us that Christ, our Holy King, desires not sacrifice, but instead to be encountered through corporal works of mercy. Unfortunately, however, the sleek and the powerful have been working to obstruct just such encounters with the poor. Recently, a 90 year old WWII veteran was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, FL for feeding hungry homeless people. After one Ebola patient recently stepped on American soil, hysterical calls to close U.S. airports to West African air travel have threatened to prevent aid workers from responding to an epidemic that has already killed thousands. Last summer, 20,000 households were left thirsty when the city of Detroit, MI shut off its water, raised the rates on that water and began a transition towards private control of city water by a French based company. Even more recently, President Obama’s plan to relieve a few million families from deportations was delayed when a handful of Congressman adopted a Total War posture to block the nomination of a new Attorney General. Solitary confinement, an increasing practice in U.S. prisons, creates a total impossibility of communication and has been called a “torturous” practice by the Pope and psychological experts. If Christ is to be found in the least of our brothers and sisters, then why are frigid places like Anoka, MN declaring war on gay teens? Can we not even find Christ in our own children?

While the Last Judgment might strike fear in the hearts of the unrepentant, its real purpose may better be seen as a piercing arrow aimed at the heart of indifference. The proverbial goats are not a people of perceived evil to be cast out like so many parents of LGBT youth. They are the sleek and strong who are likely waiting Christ out till the end time like a sports fan whose interest is only peaked during the playoffs, and only then if he is likely to be on the winning team’s bandwagon. Unfortunately for them, Christ the King is not a mascot for the sheep’s team or the goat’s team. On the playing field of life, Christ is the ball. We celebrate Christ as King because there is no victory without the ball. Apocalypse is nothing if not a reminder in the here and now to keep our eye on the ball. Yes, a Christmas season without Christ is like a game without a ball, a meaningless charade. However, the same can be said of every moment of every day. Therefore a “War on Christ” is an internal struggle. Those questions will not start “If the Son of Man comes…” but “When he comes…” Apocalypse only asks of us, “May God be all in all?” If the Lord is our shepherd, and we truly want nothing else, then our worthy struggle ends when only after we faithfully and emphatically say “Yes…we will begin inheriting the kingdom right now.”

Rhett Engelking
Director of Franciscan Earth Corps

Suggested Petitions:

May our eyes be opened to see the least of our brothers and sisters as God sees them… Let us pray

May we put our full trust in God that He is our Shepard and we shall not want… Let us pray

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