Most guys between the ages of 35 and 60 know the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Even as I mention it, I am sure some of you guys are smiling to yourselves and immediately remembering dialogue about coconuts, swallows, French taunters, and killer rabbits. It’s classic “guy cinema,” and ladies, if you don’t get it, ask your husbands or boyfriends!
Early in that movie, King Arthur and his trusty companion “ride” through the English countryside and encounter two peasants toiling in the mud. A conversation about politics and systems of government arises. Eventually frustrated, Arthur “orders the two peasants to be quiet. “Who does he think he is?” the woman asks.
“I am your king,” Arthur response matter-of-factly.
“Well I didn’t vote for you!” she retorts.
Then Arthur describes his divine election as king because of his encounter with the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend.
“You don’t vote for kings,” Arthur tells them. It’s true. Kings aren’t elected officials. However, they certainly expect their subjects’ loyalty. But, in a world and culture where we no longer recognize the real authority of monarchs, what are we to take away from today’s “Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”?
All month, we have reflected on this theme of “Consumer or Consumed?” In our spiritual life, we can run into the tendency to look at our relationship with God as a “what’s-in-it-for-me?” proposition. This is the attitude of a consumer; it is self-centered and self-exalting. Today, at the ending of the Liturgical Year, we strive to put things back into perspective – to re-center ourselves – to become God-centered.
Jesus isn’t asking for our “vote,” any more than Arthur expected a vote from those peasants. Jesus is asking for our devotion – our love. The mark of a true disciple is to be consumed by dedication to Him. Simply saying “Jesus is my Lord” doesn’t cut it. When everyone is looking, we can certainly give the “right” answer to the questions. When Jesus asks us directly, “Am I your Lord?” we can certainly say “Yes.”
However, our character – our true self – is revealed when no one is looking – when no one is asking – when there’s nothing in it for me. This is the lesson of the Gospel today. Those who are cast into eternal punishment are the ones who do not claim Jesus as King. How so? Certainly, if they had known that Jesus was that person who needed food or drink, who was naked or alone, who was sick or imprisoned, they would have readily served their needs. But what would the motivation have been? Their attitude was one of a consumer. Surely, if it were profitable to them to care they would have done so. However, that’s not what they saw when no one was looking.
Equally interesting, however, is the reaction of the blessed. They are shocked that they had cared for Jesus’ needs when He tells them so. “When did we do so?” they ask, bewildered. “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Believe it or not, we are called to “vote” for our King. But this is not a matter of a one-time right answer or choice. Rather, our vote flows first from the assertion that Jesus is everything to us. He must be everything to us – so much so that we see Him in each encounter that we have, when people are looking and when they are not. When it serves our purposes and when it does not.
We “vote” about our priorities and values all the time. When we spend our money on certain products or pursuits, we vote. When we advertise or broadcast our favorite sports team or band or beer on a T-shirt, we vote. When we speak a certain way about this or that person, we vote. When we share a photo or story or status on Facebook, we vote.
So how do we vote for Jesus our King?
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
Behavior like this shows that we are consumed with love of Jesus, and ultimately it is the criteria on which we are judged - not on what we gained, but how much we loved.
Supreme executive power does not come from “farcical aquatic ceremonies.” It doesn’t come from surface appearances at all. Supreme power comes from love – that is why Jesus is our King, and that is why we should act as He asks: out of love.
As we go through our week, let’s ask ourselves the question: Is this who I am? Is this reflecting my King? Does this reveal that I am consumed by love of Christ?
We don’t vote for Him with a t-shirt or a ballot box or a button.
We vote with our lives.