Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christ, The King of Refugees

Today at the BU Catholic Center, we will do something that almost never happens. We will baptize a baby! Every year at the Easter Vigil, we have the opportunity to baptize students who are coming into the Church, but we do not do infant baptisms here at the University. Our music ministers--two alumni of BU--recently had a daughter, Kateri, and since this is where they are every Sunday, we will baptize her today on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about refugees from Syria and what the United States should do about them. Today, I am reminded that I too was a refugee. All of us who celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King today do so as persons who are refugees.  Sin reigned over us and we were terrorized by the hopelessness that belongs to those who are surrounded by snares of death. We could not save ourselves. We were subject to the power of Satan and had no place to go.

To save us, God himself became a refugee. He descended from Heaven and became a man like us in all things but sin. He came to be close to His own, but St. John tells us that His own "received Him not." He was rejected. But to those who did receive Him, He gave power to become children of God. Those who accepted this voluntary refugee from heaven, were given power to flee the Kingdom of Death and to become citizens of Heaven.

Through Baptism, we have become children of God. We have no right to that title. It has been bestowed upon us by pure grace. Our citizenship is in heaven, not by natural generation, but by supernatural adoption. Being citizens of the Kingdom of God brings with it responsibilities. More and more each day, we must allow Christ to reign over us. Our thoughts, our words, and our actions must more and more conform to the thoughts, words, and actions of our King. When people come to America, we want them to assimilate into our culture, to become "American." So too--and far more--is it the case that we who have been saved from utter destruction by being welcomed into the Kingdom of God, must become more and more like Christ. 

As citizens of His Kingdom, we are called to submit ourselves more and more to his reign. We were once slaves, but now we are free. The more we subject ourselves to Christ and His commands, the more we experience true freedom. We are being made, by grace, into new creations. His thoughts are to become our thoughts, his words to become our words, his actions to be our actions. Every day, we are to die to our old self and to put on the new man who is Christ Jesus.

Today--in the waters of baptism--Kateri is to become a citizen of the Kingdom of God. May her baptism remind all of us to every day welcome the Refugee from Heaven into our hearts to reign over us more and more. For when Christ reigns in us, we become truly free. When Christ is welcomed into our hearts, he gives us power to become what we never could have become on our own: children of God.

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