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09/20/15 Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

One of the many surprising things about the New Testament is its honesty.

the apostles didn't understand the real nature of Christ's Kingdom. Christ's Kingdom is not a politicalmilitary reality. When we pray "Thy Kingdom Come!" we are not praying for political victories. Christ's Kingdom is a spiritual reality, the reign of God's will in the hearts of his followers.

This is why Christ's sacrifice on the cross is not a terrible failure, but an eternal triumph. When we let God's will reign in our hearts, it always involves self-denial; it always involves saying not just "Thy Kingdom Come!" but also "Thy will be done - Thy will, not my will." The clash between God's eternal wisdom, the source of his will, and the selfish preferences of our fallen human nature is what's behind the cross. Jesus endured the full pain of that clash without caving in, winning our redemption. Until the very end, in spite of the painful and humiliating opposition of this fallen world, he chose the Father's will over the natural preferences of his human mind and body.

Christ's Kingdom is spiritual, not political. But this doesn't mean that Christ's followers have nothing to say about politics. This is a common misunderstanding in today's world. We hear a lot of talk about the separation between Church and state.

But that phrase can be taken in two different ways.

In the first place, it can mean that the government of a country doesn't try to run the Church, and that, in turn, the Church doesn't try to run the government.

That's the right way to understand separation of Church and state.

But there is also a wrong way to understand it.

The wrong viewpoint says that religion is just a private hobby, like butterfly collecting, and so has nothing to contribute to the public life of a community or country.

But in fact, there is one area of life where politics and faith do overlapmorality. Governments, in order to do their job well and make just laws, have to respect the natural moral law - the Ten Commandments, for example. This natural moral law is built into human nature. It exists prior to politics and provides healthy parameters for political activity, just like the laws of physics existed prior to the invention of rockets and provided the parameters for space travel. Governments need clear knowledge of the natural moral law to do their job as much as engineers need clear knowledge of natural physical laws to do theirs. And God has made the Church a sure teacher and guide on questions of natural moral law. And so, we as Catholics have a lot to contribute to the discussion of public affairs; it is up to us to be conscience of our country.

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