Nov 19, 2016
Viva Cristo Rey!
There are two famous landmarks that, from a distance, look remarkably the same. One is relatively modern. Built in the 19th century, it stands 555 feet tall on the grounds of the National Mall. It is the Washington Monument - the tallest single stone structure in the world, this colossal obelisk was built to honor our first president. No building in Washington D.C. is permitted to be built higher. (Maybe that’s the reason the Trump Tower which stands at a hundred feet taller was built in New York, and not in our nation's capitol!)
If it had eyes, the Washington Monument would have witnessed the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as president, wept over a nation torn apart by civil war, listened attentively to Martin Luther King, and gazed down upon the hundreds of thousands braving the cold winters for the annual March for Life.
The other monument, remarkably similar in structure, is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, built in the 19th century before Christ was born. If it had eyes, it would have watched curiously the arrival to Egypt of the young exile Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. It would have welcomed the sons of Jacob who fled to the land of the pharaohs as refugees. It would have also stood silently in the background watching Moses negotiating the liberation from slavery of the Hebrew people. It would have witnessed the Exodus of the Chosen People, as they departed Egypt for their arduous journey to the Promised Land. And it would waited patiently for over a thousand years to welcome a young family with a baby who travelled a long and dangerous journey from Bethlehem seeking protection in Egypt as exiles - of course they were Joseph and Mary and Christ himself.
Of that Egyptian obilex, a few years after Christ was crucified and rose from the dead, the Romans transported it with great effort and presented it as a gift to the emperor to adorn an arena in Rome. Now it was forced to watch the blood sports of the gladiators mercilessly slaughtering thousands, including countless Christians martyred for their faith. And it would also became the silent witness to the crucifixion of St. Peter, the Galilean fisherman to whom Christ gave the Keys of the Kingdom of heaven.
Remarkably, this Egyptian obillex remained intact after Rome burned and when the Roman Empire collapsed and crumpled around it. But today, it stands in the middle of St. Peter’s Square, and the People of God from around the world, of every language, from every culture and tradition gather around it every Sunday united in prayer with the successor of St. Peter.
Unlike the Washington Monument, as impressive as it is, this ancient stone monument in St Peter’s Square, which for nearly four thousand years witnessed the rise and fall of earthly powers and governments - this enduring obelisk has itself been conquered. For on top of it, there is now a cross. And chiseled deep into its granite, around its base are the words, "Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat. Christus ab omni malo plebem suam defendat." (Christ is the victor, Christ is the King, Christ is the ruler, May Christ defend His people from all evil).
My dear friends, on this commendation of Christ the King, let it remind us never to look to the powers of this world, be they political systems, ideologies or earthly personalities, to give us what only God can offer. As citizens of this earthly dominion, may we never forget that Christ Himself is always our true and merciful Shepherd always ready to forgive and heal the world, wounded by sin and the ambitions of men. May Christ, the strong and true foundation of our patience, our endurance and our determination always reign in our hearts and lives. For all time and all history belong to Him and no other. Viva Cristo Rey!
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