Sunday, November 25, 2012

Caesar Belongs to Christ

Jesus, I trust in you!

The feast of Christ the King celebrates the dominion of Christ over all the affairs of man. In our times, many civil governments undermine the kingship of the Lord by invoking the separation of Church and State. In the modern times, we have taken this principle as gospel truth. However, it might surprise you to know that this principle of separation of Church and State was among the modern errors condemned by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1852. It is wrong to think that “the State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limit” (1862). Yes, there are 2 recognizable earthly powers: “one of natural origins which provides for secular affairs and the tranquility of human society and the other of supernatural origin…which has been instituted for the sake of souls and of eternal salvation” (Pius IX, Etsi Multa, 21 November 1873). On account of this, we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. However, it should not be forgotten that Caesar “is smaller than heaven.” Pope Leo XIII taught that “justice…and reason forbid the State to be godless” (Leo XIII, Libertas). The State is always subject to the authority of Christ because “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The prophet Daniel speaks of Christ as the Son of Man who “received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away and his kingship shall not be destroyed.”

It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ as Pilate did in the gospel. When he asked: “I am not a Jew, am I?” he must have thought of himself as beyond the jurisdiction of Christ’s kingship. After all, “your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me,” he said to Jesus. It is easy for the civil governments to undermine the authority of Christ and of his Church. In fact, civil governments have time and again stripped the Church of her temporal powers. Today, laws that openly oppose the teachings of the gospel are being enacted. Of the candidates running for the presidency, how many of them are actually willing to submit to the authority of Christ and the Church? It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ because he himself said: “My kingdom does not belong to the world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” But let not civil governments bask in their power for one day, Christ’s kingdom shall manifest itself in its full glory. Christ’s kingdom is already here. The Church is the beginning of Christ’s kingdom. But one day, it will come in its fullness: “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.” This is the truth which he invites all to recognize. To listen to the Church is to listen to his voice. To listen to his voice is to belong to his kingdom. “States and nations are called to acknowledge the right of the Catholic Church …to decide what favors or hinders our most real life…It belongs to the Church as the sole divinely-appointed Guardian of the whole Moral law, natural and revealed.” (Leo XIII, Immortale Dei) “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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