Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ferguson - Homily for the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Please note: I am posting this on Sunday, November 23rd. A decision has yet to be made by the grand jury. Also, my audience in this homily includes many who once lived in Ferguson and other areas of north St. Louis.

A few weeks ago, Archbishop Carlson wrote a pastoral letter to all in the Archdiocese and he exhorted pastors to make the letter known either through the bulletin or by having it read aloud during the homily. At all of the weekend Masses here at St. Joe’s, we will be hearing the Archbishop’s letter. At the end of his letter, I will provide a few comments in light of today’s Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Archbishop’s letter is found here:

My comments that were said after the letter are written below:

I’m a young pup. I know that many of you have dealt with issues like this for some time and, because of that, you know a lot more from experience than I do. I’ve had many conversations with many of you about Ferguson, conversations where I am mostly listening. I’ve heard a lot of anger, sadness, fear, questions of why, a little apathy, and a growing fatigue: we’re all tired of being held hostage to the evil and the fear and anger that comes with it. I’ve felt many of the same things.

For my part, I am baffled by the near-total rejection of law: not only with regard to the lawlessness of the rioters who have already gathered here, but also because of the great suspicion that people have regarding the grand jury. Why has there been a rejection of the legal process itself?

Many reduce the issue to race and racism. I am sure there are many elements there, but that reduction is too easy and doesn’t explain many other issues at work here. Certainly, there are many socio-economic issues. But even then there are causes underlying those issues.

One of the issues, in my opinion, is the oversight regarding matters of fact and truth. So much has been reported about the reaction—but so little has been reported about the facts of the case and the facts of the community. Totally overlooked has been the fact that there are people in the community who thought that Michael Brown was a bully. Totally overlooked has been the fact that many first responders and their families have had to literally go into hiding. A little has been said about how businesses have been hurting there. But less has been said that there are many people in Ferguson—white and black alike—who are besides themselves, infuriated at what is going on. There are more, many more, people who are peaceful than people who are rioting.

When I started to think about how many facts and how much truth has been overlooked, I started to wonder. My wonder grew when I started to see a dramatic uptick in my confessional of people who were battling with temptations to anger, revenge, racism, fear, anxiety, doubt, and despair. I began to wonder whether larger powers were at work. Then, this week, I hear how the Occupy Movement and also the New Black Panthers and, just yesterday, the Communist Party, have all descended upon St. Louis. It is as though the powers of darkness are descending upon the city.

This is no longer about a man being shot in Ferguson.

This is about a proliferation of sin that is diabolical to its core. We’re dealing with pure, unadulterated sin—and I am convinced that the devil is behind it, manipulating the opportunity so as to destroy and enslave as much and as many as he can.

On this Solemnity of Christ the King, I beg Jesus to reign as king in our city and in our hearts. For our part, I know many of us are wondering what we can do. On one hand, we are told to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc. But I realize today that there is a deeper spiritual element to this. How many are hungry and thirsty for Jesus? How many are naked to the winds of evil? How many are imprisoned and sick by the slavery of sin? We don’t just need physical remedies—we need spiritual ones.

We hear about how there will be a separation between those who are good and those who are evil, a separation that shows who have lived as citizens of God’s kingdom and those who have lived as citizens of the devil’s. We hear how this will take place at the end of time.

But, brothers and sisters, the reality is: that separation begins to happen now. We show now whether we are a citizen of heaven or of hell. Yes, you can be angry because of what is going on—that kind of righteous anger. Yes, you can also be sad to see the old neighborhood being destroyed. You can be sad, you can be angry—BUT DO NOT SIN.

If you are angry, then turn to prayer. Do we not think that God is not angry over evil? His anger is held back for now and we live in an age of mercy. So we must do the same. See your brother as a captive of sin. Offer your anger as a sacrifice of prayer to free our brothers from their sins. Have your anger turn into zeal for God’s kingdom. You can be angry, but do not sin.

So let us pray. Let us pray for Jesus to reign in our city and in our hearts. Let us ask Him to be that shepherd who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, where, by his side, I fear no evil. Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. Lord, be our king! Reign in our world and in our hearts, Jesus!


  1. best sermon I have heard in years

  2. As St. Paul said, we fight against principalities, and powers and evil in high places. This is truly the work of the evil one! We must not let ourselves be drawn in. Oremus - Let us pray!