Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Leadership
Allowing for republican sentiments in today's world, the title King is probably a little anachronistic. However, when one examines the original use of the word - "Rex" one who rules - the aptness of the title for Christ becomes apparent. The more so if we acknowledge that the ideal ruler is one who leads by example. For me, Christ the Leader has more appeal.

Ezechiel 34:11-12,15-17: Here we see God being portrayed as going forth to bring back the lost, to heal the sick, to bind up the injured..

1 Corinthians 15:20-26: St. Paul repeats exactly the same theme - Jesus is the founder of a new order, one in which genuine concern for others must be manifest. The over-all goal of this concern is the spiritual well-being, but this cannot be achieved if the physical needs are neglected.

Matthew 25: 31-46: The Gospel spells this message out loud and clear - Christian leadership means service of others in their spiritual and physical needs.

Point 1: A recent survey has stated that for many of today's younger generation, Jesus Christ is better known as a profanity rather than as a reference to Jesus Christ of religious importance. But, if the interest by so many in Pope John Paul's demise and the election of his successor is any guide, and the continued growth in support for World Youth Day is taken into account, it  shows that the name "Jesus Christ" is still capable of having impact.  And although there are many millions who have drifted from formal church membership, many of them are still influenced by the teaching and the example of Christ.

Point 2: I find it interesting to look at some of the efforts made in recent times to "update" Christ. There has been a constant procession of such attempts to project Him in a light that "relates to our times". Liberation Theology has presented him as the revolutionary! The "rock" generation adopted him as the befuddled hero of " Jesus Christ, Superstar"; and the flower children turned to him as the flower-child of "Godspell". Next we see him being presented as the tortured psychotic by the novelist Nikos Kazantzakis; and, more recently, we have the "pornographic" Jesus as presented by Danish and Canadian filmmakers concentrating on the relationships Jesus had with Mary Magdalene and the Apostle John. Most recently we have had Mel Gibson's portrayal of the "Suffering Christ" with its very great impact on public thought..
In between times, the character and person of Jesus has intrigued artists down through the centuries - they paint him, they carve him in wood or stone. But none of them succeed in revealing the total Christ. Each one comes up with an image that suits his or her particular cause, whilst the enigma, the mystery, the sign of contradiction whereby Christ described himself eludes them. Although he consistently refused political leadership - [John 6:15] "When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself." - and yet, he was finally arrested for being a political zealot. His claim to be the Messiah stirred up such fierce opposition amongst the religious leaders that "they took up stones with which to stone Him"; and, on another occasion, an attempt was made to throw him over a cliff! His criticism of the "establishment" was trenchant; he called them "whitened sepulchres" outwardly appealing, but full of corruption.

Conclusion: But this did not mean that He endorsed the "counterculture" -  opting for the alternative life style of dropping out and doing one's own thing. He spoke constantly of the need to be involved. Recent appeals by the Pope seek to draw attention to the impact changing social and cultural conditions in our society are having on the Church.  The need to summon the ever present spiritual resources of the committed Christian to meet the challenge of a” she’ll be right, mate”,- complacency- is very great. We cannot continue to live on our “moral” fat indefinitely.  The rich heritage bequeathed to us by earlier Christian generations – the dignity and freedom of the individual, concern for the poor, doctrine, culture and works of which  Catholic tradition is composed are under threat from within and from without. Already we are seeing the parlous state of Christianity in Europe, once described as a Christian civilisation, then watered down to “Western” civilisation and, now, in the minds of many commentators, within a generation or so likely to be Muslim dominated!

Today’s celebration should serve to remind us of the need for strong leadership to match the threat. The real Jesus was a man for all seasons, a Leader who challenged people to evaluate and to make changes where necessary; prejudice and narrow minded perspectives had no place in his thinking. Like every Leader worth his salt, Christ continues to prompt, to shake and to cause his followers to wonder who they are and where they are going.

 Scriptural reference: "Behold, I made him a witness to the people, a leader and a commander for the people" Isaiah 1 55:4