Sunday, 20 November 2016

The centre of our lives

Christians today celebrate the Reign of Christ or in non PC language Christ the King.  In recognising the change in terminology we recognise that occasionally we fail to confront the reality of our purpose.  Kingship was supposed at Christ's crucifixion (Lk. 23.38) as a recognition of leadership within the world view of the time.  The reign of Christ softens this leadership view to an overarching 'feel good' setting that is being achieved through implied, not direct, leadership as in 'King' (too patriarchal for some).  In deed it is time to move beyond our designations and our self perceived interpretations of words to mark the occasion by a concrete change in our lives.  All of these perceptions are fueled at heart by our own choices that are centred on our selves.  The first and original sign of this brokenness in scripture is the self aligned choice to deny God and seek self benefit through the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  Such a self centred approach is seen within the whole animal kingdom through a paradigm of survival (if I do not share I gain power, authority, and health within the tribe / pride / group), think cuckoo. Some of us cannot face this originary moment by naming it but rather would look for ameliorating words to skirt the issue blinding us to our own propensities.  Christ's Kingship asks us to turn this on its head.

The predator is no longer predator when he gives up his self interest.

The Christian journey towards a more catholic approach to life that is inclusive, non-discriminatory, life affirming and joy giving begins at baptism when we ask parents and Godparents to affirm that their child will be brought up rejecting 'selfishness'.  A profound life giving choice.   All young (human and others from the animal kingdom) have an in built mechanism that is centred around their own, well justified, selfish needs and will let the parent know in no uncertain terms what they require.  Our hardest task as Christians is to overcome this 'survival' trait as we tend to be "egocentric, narrow-minded, mimetic creatures" (Illio Delio).  In life we tend to retain this trait as our society demands it of us through consumerism, dualistic either / or thinking and the winner takes all attitudes.  In choosing this route, as shown throughout the journey of scripture, we close our hearts and minds to those who are trying to form community around us.  We build our own prisons and hells, our own disgruntlement and dissatisfaction, and our own separateness from God's presence through our closed mind and heart attitude that centres on our self contentment.  This is our choice.

Parents and godparents make the choice for the child to become like Christ, at baptism, trusting them to bring the child to an affirmation of this choice later in life.  In baptism, we place Christ at the centre and ask parents and Godparents to raise their child with a Christ centred attitude.  What does this look like in the modern world?  To start with it means that we need to begin by acknowledging that we are all self focused and not relationship focused.  By making this acknowledgement we turn away from the building of walls around our opinions, views, actions and begin to engage in life giving relationships with each other.  We centre love, justice, peace, mercy and compassion in those relationships.  By making those choices in the present we enact Christ's reign and begin to create a new future that has an open mind and heart.  We are then able or rather enabled to identify and join with Christ emerging in our midst on social media, at the football game or at a concert.

In baptism, we are reminded to turn away from all that is evil but if we think deeply about it evil arises out of our choices, our choices towards the self rather than towards the other.  In celebrating Christ this day we need to make a choice towards the other.  An enabling choice that opens our hearts and our minds, to bring joy into the world through our relationships with the other.  This only occurs when we allow the Christ to lead us in the authority of 'Kin(g)ship' so that Christ's reign becomes complete in our lives.

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