Serving the King

Throughout the Church‘s history, there were numerous incidents and conflicts happened between the papacy and kingly powers. Secular powers always seem to like to assert their control in the life of the Church. Sometimes, they won and were able to impose secular influences in ecclesiastical politics. At times, too, powerful families liked to secure both secular and ecclesiastical powers so they send their own into the Church, hence having both hands in the secular and spiritual realms.

Unfortunately, that was when a lot of the Church‘s historical corruptions, cases of simony, bribery, and anti-Christian examples often arose. Over and over again, when we allowed secular powers to assert their influence and control over the life of the Church, we ended up losing our Christocentric identity, freedom, and power to live the Gospel and to call out the errors of this world! When we allowed ourselves to be ruled, manipulated, or controlled by earthly or governmental influences, we ourselves become enslaved and dictated by this world instead of lifting the world up to serve Christ the King.

As a matter of fact, from early on, especially after the legalization of Christianity by Emperor Constantine through the Edict of Milan, there had always been (and continues to be) a desire for people to use the Church for their own personal or political gains. One can see from historical records a big influx of new believers, many from powerful political families, all of a sudden, became Christians so they can be on the good and right side of the Emperor. This human side has always existed in the Church from early on, but that never stopped her from living her mission.

Christ continues to raise up holy men and women to sanctify His Bride even though there were and are still people who want to pervert our vocation for something mundane. The desire to seek glory, to be in the know or in control, is so tempting because the sin of pride is the foundation and root of many evils. Even though the Church is holy and spotless as the Bride of Christ, her children have always struggled to fix their focus on loving Christ and living out their vocations as they are called to be through the Gospel. This is why we should never stop desiring the truth and live in the love of Him who gives Himself totally and completely to us, else we will fix our goods on lesser things that turn us against one another and the truth desired of us from the Almighty.

If we look at the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who had everything at His command and could choose to live as whoever He wanted, but He chose to be poor, to be near the forgotten, ignored, and abandoned. The Savior chose simplicity because He wanted our love, not just some pretentious titles, riches, wealth, or achievements. He wanted our genuine heart, love, and devotion! The Redeemer endured everything for our sake. He allowed Himself to go through a shameful death so we can understand that our Lord loves us so much that He was willing to go through extreme humility to embrace our sinfulness, even to the point of shedding His blood to die for us. Therefore, we are reminded that our salvation did not come cheap! It was paid for by the cruel afflictions and humiliated death of our Savior. We were redeemed by the King of the Universe, who has all the power to do anything He liked but chose to die for us out of love.

As we get closer to Christmas, we are reminded that Christ chose to become dependent and weak as a babe to teach us that He is the King that does not mind and care for human powers or qualities of greatness. He desires our love! This same desire is again made manifested at the Cross when He embraced the betrayal, cruel treatment, suffering, and death to show that He desires to give His all to us. From the Crib to the Cross, Christ‘s love for us has always been one and the same. From the humble manger to the shameful instrument of torture and death, the King of the universe tells us that He wants nothing fancy except for our genuine affection and love.

Christ gave us everything… and He desires our everything, too! Love desires love… and not just half-hearted, noncommittal, sometimes love, but total, self-giving, sacrificial, and personal love through a life of personal faith and discipleship, communal worship and service. Think about it… what can we give to the King of our hearts for the gifts given to us except our very own life and its genuine desire to have Him be the center of it all? He does not need anything else — nothing of earthly or materialistic values — just heart-to-heart, genuine, humble, self-giving, and total love!

We are reminded by the words of St. Paul who struggled much for the faith and saw many divisions, hurts, sufferings, and similar happenings in his time that where sins abound, grace abounds even more! (cf. Romans 5:20) There are numerous repetitions of old sins and failures that have been with the children of the Bride of Christ for a very long time, and they are not going away any time soon. This world and its influencers and rulers will always want to control, dictate, and manipulate the Church to fits their agendas. Some shepherds, leaders, and people will give in because propaganda is real and effective, especially if they do not have a deepened life of faith and spiritual life that is grounded on Christ. It is always easier to be politically correct and socially acceptable than to truly be Christians both in name and in deed, words and actions.

That is why we should not lose heart when we see these political and secular influences happening in our days! This is not to say that we should be cynical, but we need to be reminded that we need to fix our eyes on Christ Jesus and let His peace nourishes, ground, and gives life to us in our daily struggles and temptations. We change the world and sanctify the Church by how we live our lives faithfully, humbly, and committed to what has been given to us and in accordance with His will. Let us live as the Saints did in their times by letting our love of Christ bring peace to those around us and let our genuine service to one another speak louder than our words.

It is hard to love, believe, and put our trust in God. It will not be an easy journey of faith! The evil one will know our desire and intention, and he will do his best to attack, deceive, and lie to us in many different ways. At times, he will win the hearts of the Church‘s own leadership and the popular mass. Nonetheless, let us hold fast to Christ so that our faith becomes deepened, refreshed, and life-giving with new, personal, and intimate parts of who we are as His disciples, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and instruments of the Holy Spirit.

The parts of the Church that have become dependent on governmental supplements, influences, politics, and agendas are dying and becoming more institutionalized each and every day. Those who are scared of being outcasted and not being politically correct will end up being dependent, always having to look for the approval of the government, and secular and social influences. They will always be silenced, enslaved, and dictated to by the people who have control over them. Nevertheless, the parts of the Church that grow, evangelize, and remain faithful to the Gospel have become places where the faithful are joyful and committed to their faith — even in the midst of many hardships. They know the value of what it takes to believe and joyfully become stewards of their local parishes, deaneries, and dioceses. When Christians see their dignity, value, and integral roles in being the active part of the Church, those parts, without a doubt, will flourish and get strengthened with the joy of the Gospel.

At each and every moment in time, we have to remember that we first belong to Christ and are called to be obedient in serving Him first and foremost. Nothing else is more important than this one eternal, redemptive, and salvific mission and purpose for us as believers and disciples of the one true Master! The world will always try to silent, manipulate, and make us become political, secular, power-hungry, and worried about lesser goods and matters, but we need to remember that there is only one thing that matters the most, one name that we bear by our faith, and one mission that we are called to live each and every day. It is so easy to make the Church be influenced by the world, moved with it, and be popular by it, but it is very hard to make the Church be the one who moves the world, lift it up from its mundaneness, and makes it know its Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata reminded us to live fully in loving service today: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” To be honest, we will meet a lot of opposition and setbacks because the true Gospel message will not be popular and easily accepted by the world and its empty values. Therefore, let us not lose heart and be intimidated by the voices of hedonistic emptiness and vanity. Those who oppose the truth allow the world to remain cold, disconnected, self-centered, and unfair behind the false facade of empty words like tolerance, equality, compassion, and the like. They only do things and chase after matters that sound nice and gain attention for themselves, but these people who speak a lot do not have the tenacity, perseverance, and humility to truly serve, care, and give themselves to their neighbors and to the Lord because, at the end of the day, the only god for them is their very own self.

If we want this world to truly change, let us begin everything from the ground, where it matters the most, deeply connected and intimately giving from the bottom of our hearts the gift of our very own selves to one another! If we really want the world to change, we have to begin with our very own self-giving gifts of service to those who are around us. If we want our society to know that God exists, we have to be His loving presence in words and actions. We can only become life-giving when we value that very relationship with Him who loves us. We can all begin somewhere. We can all serve someone. We can give ourselves wholly and completely in some ways. Therefore, let us give, serve, and share Christ with one another through the loving and sacrificial gift of our very selves.

I will leave you a prayer written by St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionaries and missionary lands, which also happens to be my baptismal patron saint, too. I hope you can feel his love and pray with him to fall in love with the King of the Universe more, each and every day:

O God, I love You,
not simply to be saved,
and not because those who fail in love with you
will be punished with eternal fire.

You, You, my Jesus, have all-embraced me on the Cross.
You have borne the nails, the lance, much shame and disgrace,
numberless griefs, sweatings and anguish, and death,
and these on account of me and for me, a sinner.

Why, therefore, should I not love You,
O, most loving Jesus?
Not that in heaven You shall save me,
nor lest for eternity You shall condemn me;
not with the hope of any reward,
but as You have loved me, so also will I love You,
only because You are my King,
and because You are my God.

Amen.