CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - I have always been inspired by the example of Blessed Miguel Pro of Mexico who as a priest of the Society of Jesus, lived during a very trying time for the Mexican people.¬† The Catholic Church was terribly persecuted.¬†
A popular uprising of Catholic laymen called the Cristeros rose to the occasion to free the Church from the anti-clerical laws enforced by President Plutarco Calles.
Blessed Miguel Pro died as a martyr, executed on the firing squad by federal soldiers on November 23, 1927.
As he stood, waiting for the shots that would end his earthly life and begin a new life in the kingdom of heaven, he forgave his executioners, and spreading out his arms in the form of a cross he cried out ňáViva Cristo Rey!¬† Long live Christ the King!
This is the kind of zeal and conviction that the kingdom needs from all of us.¬†¬†¬† No true reforms will take place in the Church; no renewal will take place in our nation until Jesus Christ reigns in everyone's heart.¬† ňáViva Cristo Rey!¬† Long live Christ the King!
The Kingdom of God is the central teaching of Jesus throughout the Gospels.¬† The word kingdom appears more than any other word throughout the four Gospels.¬† Jesus begins his public ministry by preaching the kingdom.¬† "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:14).
By summarizing all of the teachings of the New Testament on the kingdom we can clearly see that the kingdom is a three dimensional reality:¬† the life of grace within every individual who does the will of God, the Church here on earth, and eternal life in heaven.
The kingdom first establishes itself in our hearts through the sacrament of Baptism, thus allowing us to participate in God's inner life.¬† We are elevated and transformed through sanctifying grace.¬† This supernatural life of grace comes to fulfillment in the eternal life of heaven.
Referring to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the Church is the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery.
It is the mission of the Church to proclaim and establish the kingdom of Christ. This mission takes place between the first coming and the second coming of Christ.¬† The Church will become perfected in the glory of heaven once the Second Coming takes place.
Meanwhile, the Church journeys here on earth through persecutions and consolations.¬† She is in exile from the Lord and waits with joyful hope for the full coming of the kingdom.
Jesus makes it very clear that there are two kingdoms. The two kingdoms are constantly in battle with each other.
Jesus is the king of one kingdom, and Satan is the king of the other kingdom. The battle takes place in our hearts, and it displays itself with great drama in the world.
To ensure that Jesus is always the king of our hearts requires great commitment, sacrifice, conviction, hard work and a lot of prayer.
We must never be surprised that the spiritual life is a battle.¬† A battle between the two kingdoms will always take place in our heart until the day the Lord calls us to the kingdom of heaven.
If you struggle, you will conquer.¬† If you conquer, you will be given the crown of victory.
To maintain the state of sanctifying grace in our souls and to cultivate our spiritual life so that grace increases are the essential elements to the Christian way of life.¬† However, this is not an easy enterprise.¬†
Due to the effects of Original Sin, there are four areas that cause the greatest personal struggle.¬† If we focus our attention to these obstacles to sanctifying grace, we live with immense interior freedom and intimacy with God.¬† The four areas that I am referring to are lust, gluttony, avarice and sloth.¬†
Since we live in a society consumed in sexual sins, we must be vigilant and never give in to the corruption of our times.¬† Prayer, the sacraments and filial devotion to Mary are indispensable tools to preserve the life of grace.¬† Let us remember to avoid the near occasions of sin.¬†
In Fatima, Our Blessed Mother warned humanity that sexual sins cause more people to go to hell than any other offenses.
Gluttony is another battle for most Americans.¬† We allow ourselves to be controlled by food.¬†
Gluttony is defined as an inordinate love for the pleasures of food.¬† This common vice makes our soul the slave of our body and causes us to act like an animal.¬† We can acquire the virtue of temperance by eating proper foods and controlling the amounts of food that we consume.¬† It is disgraceful the amount of food that people pile onto their plates.
Avarice is another common problem for many Americans.¬† The inordinate love for money and material possessions is a real problem in today's society.¬†
This vice can be uprooted from our souls by living within our means, keeping within a strict yearly budget, avoiding unnecessary credit card debt, and by practicing the Biblical principle of tithing.¬† The sin of avarice is rooted in a deep mistrust in God who provides all that we need for our daily existence.¬†
Along with the traditional means that I mentioned that are necessary for the preservation of the virtue of chastity, uprooting the sins of gluttony and avarice are very useful in the cultivation of purity.
If we can control our eating and spending habits, we can then have a greater ability to control our sexual desires.
Sloth is another terrible vice that controls many people.¬† Sloth proceeds from an inordinate attachment to sensual pleasure and it causes us to avoid suffering and effort.
In the spiritual life, sloth presents the greatest obstacle to spiritual progress.¬†
If we do not exert ourselves with a strong will and firm character, we are putting our own eternal salvation in jeopardy.¬† There is no room for laziness and complacency in the kingdom of Christ!¬†
My dear friends, the spiritual life will always be a continual battle, but if we really love Jesus and his kingdom, we will always be able to proclaim the inspirational words spoken by Saint Paul, one of the greatest members of the kingdom: "I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4: 8).
History is filled with the details of many famous battles.¬† One of these confrontations took place at the Alamo.¬† On March 5, 1836, Colonel William Travis assembled his men in the plaza of the Alamo and told them that there was no hope that they would receive any help.¬†
He drew a line on the ground with a sword to be crossed by all who were committed to stay and fight.¬† Everyone crossed the line except for one man by the name of Moses Rose, who escaped over one of the walls surrounding the Alamo.¬†
Today, more than ever, the kingdom of Christ needs convinced Catholics who will fight heroically for their King.¬†
The kingdom of Christ on earth has always been known as the Church militant, not a Church of cowards.¬†
The conflict between good and evil reached its culmination during the passion of Christ the King.¬† Betrayal, disloyalty, fear and hatred came to overshadow the fidelity of a few disciples and the Lord's loving Mother.
The Cross is an essential component for membership in the kingdom of Christ.¬† Those who belong to the kingdom of Satan do not want a king who tells them that they have to suffer.
They want Jesus to come down from the Cross.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.¬† You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org and listen to the audio podcast of this Sunday homily.¬†¬†
By Fr. James Farfaglia
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