I have a confession to make…some of you might have even noticed this in your conversations with me…I have become way too connected to my iphone. A while back I was visiting with an old friend over lunch…it was my day off…we were telling stories about the great times we had back in high school and two or three times…right in the midst of our conversation…without even thinking about it…I took my iphone and slid my thumb across the bottom to engage the touch screen to see if anyone had texted me or if I had received any e mails. The third time I did this my friend looked me square in the eyes and asked if I would please put my phone away so that we could really visit. Well…needless to say I was totally embarrassed. Now when I have an appointment in my office or when I’m out to lunch or dinner I try to leave my phone upside down on my desk in silent mode with no vibrating or in the desk drawer or in the car. I bet this iphone problem is a problem for some of you too. Do you know that there’s an official condition called “Habitual Phone Checking”. It came out in a recent study in the journal Personal Computing and it explains that “checking habits” usually last 30 seconds and occur many times in a 10 minute period. Users in that study had checked their phones 34 times a day for no other reason but mere habit with no ping and no vibration calling out to them. Iphones…Blackberries…PDAs…text messaging…tweeting…face booking. Have you noticed that these are now accepted verbs in modern American English…the verb - to instant message…to tweet…to face book. There’s no doubt about it…Time and technology is the dominant commodity in today’s world…we are driven by time and technology.
There’s a result is this overwhelming obsession by which technology grips us…we’re quickly losing the need for God which means that we are quickly losing awareness of God. We have become manipulators of time and technology ourselves…or at an even more sinister level…we are controlled by our time and technology. This…particularly American problem…although I suspect it’s the same in Western Europe…Japan…Korea…Moscow…Mexico City…Buenos Aires…and in every other major city in the world…this problem damages to the human soul because we end up living lives incapable of contemplating God. Is there any surprise then that there are more and more people who claim to non-believers or in the most extreme cases atheists?
I’ve shared this short reflection on the Eucharist with many of you before…for me it’s been a soul changing theological concept. It’s changed how I go to Communion…it’s changed how I understand the 7 Sacraments…it’s changed how I contemplate God and existence itself. John 1…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Everything that is was created through the Word. We’ve all heard this somewhat cryptic passage through the years…and probably not taken a lot of time to consider what it really means…because it’s written in an odd style for sure. But now go with me to Genesis 1…the story of God’s creation…when he created...He spoke…he said let there be light…he said let there be the heavens and the earth…he said let there be plants and animals and people. Now we know that one of the names we’ve given to Jesus is The Word…we’re about to celebrate at Christmas The Word made flesh…Jesus…the 2nd person of the Trinity is The Word. And so if we combine John 1 with Genesis 1 and the richness of his nickname as The Word it becomes clear that Jesus is the very source of all that is. Jesus…this man who walked the towns and dusty roads of the Holy Land is The Word that…from before the beginning…gives meaning to all that is…because he spoke all that is into existence…the Word...from before the beginning…gives meaning to all that is. Why else do we also refer to Jesus as the Alpha…the first letter in the Greek alphabet…and the Omega…the last letter in the Greek alphabet. He is the Alpha and Omega and all letters in between which make up words that give meaning. It’s like the I AM in the story of Moses on the mountain. God…Jesus…The Word…is the eternal present that speaks meaning into material objects.
It’s very interesting…John wrote his gospel in 98 AD and the Book of Genesis was written in 1400 BC. And yet they each say the same thing about this man Jesus. And right here today you and I are about to encounter the exact same thing. We will actually be coming in to contact with our very origin…with the very origin of existence itself…the Word. In a few minutes at Holy Communion we will encounter that which gives us meaning.
This Truth of Jesus Christ as the Creator of all is indispensible in all our lives because all that we see around us…everything that is…yes even iphones and blackberries are because The Word spoke…Jesus spoke. In classical philosophy and theology we would say that The Word is a priori. The Word was prior to all that is and thus possesses a sort of authoritative knowledge over that which comes after it. And this is how we begin to see Christ the King as the ultimate authority.
The best thing about this King…which is completely counter cultural to kingship throughout history is that Christ the King rules us not by physical force not by the conquest of nations and cultures not through war…Christ rules us by the conquest of our very being…at the very source of our being…at the place where the Word once spoke us into existence.
And so the only way to appreciate this day…The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the Universal King is to assume a disposition of Contemplation…of slowing down…shutting off the sound…putting the iphone in the drawer or in the glove compartment so that we can go back to what was prior and hear the Word continually speaking each of us into existence giving our lives ultimate or original meaning.
Think about really powerful rulers throughout history…most of them sought to leave their mark on their people. Christ the King is very different. He leaves His mark in his people…at the very ground of their being. We don’t follow him…we are connected to Him. His Laws aren’t placed upon us…they’re placed within us…written on our hearts. Christ’s kingdom isn’t something geographical…it is right here in our souls. We are the Kingdom of Christ the King…and we must be aware of that. Something I heard during this past election from the archbishop of Philadelphia I think relates to my message today nicely. Archbishop Chaput said…We are Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans…We are even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us. This is what we celebrate today on this feast of Christ our King!