The King's Word


Soon after entering seminary, I visited a friend who was unfamiliar with the faith. Driving in his car, he told me he had a song he wanted me to hear. As it began, I could tell it was a song about Christianity.

Then it became clear it was a song about Catholicism. In less than 30 seconds, I realized this was a virulently anti-Catholic song. It attacked our most precious dogmas and morals with vulgarity and rancor. Looking at my friend, he seemed oblivious to the hatred spewing from his speakers. At first I was confused, and then I grew angry. I was about to say something when my friend said “this is it, this is the part I wanted you to hear.” He turned up the volume. I braced myself for whatever would come next.

For whatever reason, in the middle of this anti-Catholic opus, the artist had chosen to insert a verbatim reading of the gospel we have this Sunday. It is a long reading; it went on for at least a minute, and I listened intently for some way the artist might change or alter it for his purposes. He hadn’t changed it at all. It was the scripture, word for word. As the reading ended and the artist took up his venomous rant again, my friend turned down the volume so that we could barely hear it. Then he looked at me and asked, “ that really in the Bible? Because that’s cool.” Through all that filth and slander, it was the Word of God that had caught his attention. Despite the extended vilification of the Church we had just listened to, he wanted to talk to me about the contents of the Gospel.

This Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. We acknowledge Jesus’ status as king of the universe. Every life is subject to his rule. His word is relevant to every heart. Whatever lies or distractions stand in the way, when his word breaks through, it speaks to the open mind. His voice is like no other voice. His judgment renders eternal consequences for each and for all. His will is absolute, and so is his presence. He is everywhere, especially among “the least brothers of mine.” He is present among the thirsty, the hungry, and the stranger, as well as the naked, the ill and the prisoner. What we do to them, we do to him. Whatever they think about us, he will think likewise. This is the true king, the one who caught my friend’s attention. The better we serve him, especially among the least of our brothers, the more easily others will find him and welcome his reign.