24 November 2012

Who sits on the throne of your heart?

NB.  The deacons are preaching this weekend.  Here's my Christ the King homily from 2006. . .written in a style very different from what I use these days. . .

Christ the King
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation and St. Paul’s Hospital

Who or what sits on the throne of your heart? Who or what rules your mind, your body, your soul? Who are you as a subject of the Lord’s kingdom? Who are we together in his royal service?

The Solemnity of Christ the King celebrates the arrival and the coming of the Lord—his coming and going in disgrace in the beginning and his coming and staying in glory in the end. He has been given an everlasting dominion, eternal glory, and kingship in heaven and on earth. He is firstborn of the dead, ruler of the kings of earth, and he is the faithful witness to his Father’s accomplished promise: to us who love him, he has freed us from our sin by his blood, and made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father! He is prophet, priest, and king and we share in his prophetic ministry, his priestly duty, and his kingly rule. But we do not share these offices by right or reward; we share them by inheritance. In baptism we took on the mantle of the Anointed One and gave our lives to the work of giving the Living Word our hands and feet, our strong backs and big mouths, our determination and patience, and we gave all of our foreign allegiances to the sanctifying fire of Pentecost—no alien rulers, no sacrifices to false gods, no prayers to the elemental powers, no princes before The Prince, no king in our hearts but the King of kings, the Lord or lords.

His dominion must skate through your veins, flex your muscles, and draw your breath. His rule will accomplish in you the perfection of every gift, polishing every talent and treasure, and he will bring your will to bear on the need for renunciation and sacrifice, the need for surrender to the commands of love, the righteous orders of mercy and faith. The rule of Christ the King in your heart opens your ears: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” That voice, his voice will not ask you, will not lead you to the worship of the idols of the market.

Who or what sits on the throne of your heart? Who or what rules your mind, your body, your soul? If you are not ruled from your heart by the Word Made Flesh, then you are ruled by some alien power, some foreign god. Let me name some them: there are spirits who would rule us—spirits of disobedience and arrogance; of narcissism and selfishness; of deceit and false witness; of judgment and self-righteousness; of confusion and syncreticism; of rage and violence. There are disordered passions that would rule us: lust posing as love; greed posing as desire; pride posing as self-esteem; envy posing as competition; gluttony posing as the entitlement; sloth posing as leisure; and anger posing as righteous indignation. There are fallen angels, counterfeit messengers, who would rule us with false information and corrupted wisdom: ancient seers, ascended masters, make-believe prophets, self-anointed messiahs, cults of personality, cults of scientism, cults of success w/no money down, churches of the Barbie Waistline and the Ken Pecs and Abs, and the demonic choirs of celebrities singing their own praises!

Who or what sits on the throne of your heart? Who or what rules your mind, your body, your soul?

Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you King of the Jews?” Jesus answers with a question, “Did you figure this out or did someone tell you?” Pilate says, “I’m not a Jew. Your own people gave me to you. What have you done?” Jesus responses to Pilate, but he doesn’t answer Pilate’s question. Instead he tells Pilate that he is a King, but not a king in this world or a king in the way the world thinks of kings. Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world[…]my kingdom is not here.” Frustrated, Pilate says, “So, you are a king then?!” Jesus simply says, “I was born and came into this world to testify to the truth.” And this is what he did from his debut at the Wedding at Cana up to and including this exchange with Pilate—Jesus has taught the truth of the faith, holding fast against expectation and convenience and popularity and betrayal and expediency; holding the truth of the Word so that that Word might be purely spread, pristinely heralded and heard.

There is no compromise here. No genteel dialogue btw individuals with competing but probably compatible interests. No exchange of heart-felt wishes and warm salutations. Jesus speaks the Word of Truth to Pilate. And says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” What do those who belong to the truth hear? They hear: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” They hear a proclamation of Christ’s rule, a declaration of his reign and sovereignty. Son of Man and Son of God. Faithful witness. Firstborn of the dead. Ruler of the kings of the earth. No election. No voting. No audience participation. No American Idol final four. Lord of lords, King of kings. Mighty God. That’s all! And that’s everything!

Who or what sits on the throne of your heart? Who or what rules your mind, your body, your soul?

The implication of these questions is naked: answer them honestly and know immediately the state of your spiritual life. I don’t mean to say here that you will get some sense of whether or not you are fulfilled or happy or content. Or that you will come to feel better about yourself or less stressed out or better able to cope. Jesus promised his disciples and us—all of his preachers and apostles—persecution, trial, betrayal, and death. He never promised us contentment or self-esteem in this life. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be happy here and now or that we can’t find some measure of peace. All it means is that being stressed out or unhappy or anxious or doubtful is not evidence that you are a bad Christian. All of those nagging spirits and draining demons are, however, a pretty good sign that something or someone else sits on the throne of your heart; something or someone else rules you—body, mind, spirit, all of you. What you feel is dis-ease, instability, the uneasiness that we all feel when we invite a foreign ruler, some alien king into our lives.

But know that these spirits are temporary gods, paper doll deities folded together with Elmer’s and plastic glitter. They are houses of leaves, Styrofoam rocks and magic marker paint, a fleet of cardboard ships in icy water sinking. They are the Sons of Noise and the Daughters of Wisps, passing through, clouds and rank breezes; loud, dangerous, yes; but powerless before a true king.

Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to his voice. Everyone who belongs to goodness sees his work. Everyone who belongs to beauty touches his face. Everyone who belongs to the Father welcomes his rule in their hearts. Everyone who belongs to the Son gives thanks for his sacrifice. Everyone who belongs to the Spirit rejoices in his gifts. And everyone, everyone who belongs to the kingdom serves One Faith, One Baptism, One Lord!

Is he lord of your heart? If not, who sits the throne and rules your life? He is the Faithful witness, the Firstborn of the dead, King of kings, Jesus Christ!
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3 comments:

  1. Regardless of style, vintage Fr. PNP (hit-me-close-to-home 9th paragraph specially)...

    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. MFT, many thanks. . .vintage or not, I cringe a bit at some of my more. . .ermmm. . .florid language. :-)

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  2. Wow - what a different rhythm! I agree, though, with Matheus that this is Vintage Fr PNP :-). I enjoyed the read, but prefer your current "style". This one seemed...rushed?-perhaps trying very (too) hard to get your point across. Whereas now, in your More Mature Style, your homilies are more "powerful", and feel (sorry to use that word)like they are on more solid ground. So as you have matured, and continue to mature, as a preacher you are able to sit back somewhat as you write - using not just your knowledge, but your Considerable Experience as well.

    And wouldn't you know that I was wrestling and struggling with these very questions, among others, over the weekend. It was so nice to have a little time where I could sit, or walk, and be completely unguarded in my prayer/relationship with God - such a rare gift.

    Thanks for sharing.

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