The Way of BeautyFrom 'Sister Act' to Christ the King

Jesus 9693311891 ( / Lukas Plewina CC 2.0)

Occasionally popular songs express words of wisdom that attract a wide and diverse audience.  Four of them are: "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "My Favorite Things," "Sabbath Prayer," and "To Life," from "The Sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof," respectively.  

From "Sister Act" . . . . 

The 1992 comedy "Sister Act" features two songs, "Follow Him" and "My Guy (My God)"   whose flippant lyrics shock the Mother Superior (played by Maggie Smith) when they are sung in church by the choir of sisters led by Sister Mary Clarence/Delores Van Cartier (played by Whoopi Goldberg). Yet, as we shall see, they capture the core meaning of this Sunday's grand feast, Christ the King: 

"Follow Him" 

Verse: "I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go. There isn't an ocean too deep, a mountain so high it can keep me away.

Refrain:  Love him, I love him, I love him. And where he goes, I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow.

Verse: I must follow him, ever since he touched my hand I knew that near him I always must be and nothing can keep him from me.   He is my destiny.

"My Guy (My God)"  

"Nothing you could say could tear me away from my Guy (my God);"  "Nothing you could do could make me untrue to my Guy (my God);"  "No muscle bound man could ever take my hand from my Guy (my God);"  "There's not a man today who could take me away from my Guy (my God)."

. . . to Christ the King

Whether it was the Scribes, the Pharisees, Peter, the crowds, or Caiaphas, they were all taken aback, fascinated by his aura and by the power that went out from him.  Who was this man Jesus? Where did he come from?  How did he get the power to touch the lives of so many?  Caiaphas asked if he was a king. 

What the Jews Thought of Jesus

As a youth, Jesus taught in the temple and impressed the Scribes with his maturity. In his public ministry, he attracted the curious and the devout.  His holiness had a magnetic pull that was hard to resist.  "As an "exceedingly attractive man as handsome as a man can be" is the way Psalm 45:2 aptly describes him 

It was out of the question for a Jew to think of God in human form.  Yet to many, Jesus possessed the quality associated with their notion of God's glory.  Perhaps their thoughts were precocious about the fulfillment of the Scriptures.  Few remained indifferent to him.  To some, he was a fraud, to others, the promised Messiah.  For these, he was the noblest example of Jewry, he spoke the truth, went about doing good, and even to his death by crucifixion, he lived lovingly. He was the epitome of divine glory.  He was God, the king of glory.

Peter's Faith and Ours 

Though Jesus knew his identity as the Son of God, he refrained from revealing his divinity.  Boasting was not his style. Neither did he prompt others to praise him or believe in him. Instead, as if to test one's faith, he followed up questions about his identity with predictions of his passion and death. Who would want to be a companion of a disgraced man, one who had failed utterly and completely?

When Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am," he refrained and gave Peter no clues.  No miracles either.  He wanted Peter's free response.  By the time Peter blurted out: "You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God," he had had some experience of Jesus' holiness (Mk 8:29; Mt:16:16).   

More in The Way of Beauty

Peter knew that the Lord's holiness was on an altogether different plane.  Perhaps this is why he refused at first to have the Master stoop to wash his filthy feet. Perhaps this is why his betrayal caused an outpouring of bitter tears.  (Peter's anguish is vividly captured in Bach's St. Matthew Passion.  The accompaniment to his aria twists and turns symbolizing his half-crazed state of mind ('What did I do? Why did I do it?'), while his tears drop to the ground symbolized by the unrelenting beat in the cellos and double basses). As for Jesus' divinity, only after the stone was rolled back would Peter have such proof. 

Catholic Christianity is nothing without professing Jesus Christ as King. To be a companion and disciple of the Lord is to abide in his presence and 'wear' his holiness. We follow him as disciples. "It is he who leads" (Ps 48:14). Or, "he is my destiny."  Further, to do so with joy and magnanimity of heart.  There is always more, following him more closely, and serving him more completely.  

History of the Feast of Christ the King 

The Church's celebration of Christ the King has assumed a new urgency.  Why so?  In 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed this feast to overcome the prevailing errors of the time-materialism, secularism, and relativism.  Today, unbelief, religious indifference, a neo-paganism, and an unabashed atheism have been added to the list.  Taken all together, they pose an assault on a moral and a Christian way of living.  These false teachings have already found a place in the attitudes and behavior of our youth who are searching for cogent reasons to follow Christ as "my Guy, my God" and to live as devout Catholics.

Reverence for the Name of Jesus

Ours is a Christophobic culture.  Except perhaps for purposes of swearing, the name of Jesus Christ has been banished from polite company and from the public square.  Mention the name Jesus Christ more than once, and you are branded a "Christ-er." Most conversations barely tolerate the name of God, not to mention the name of Jesus Christ.  No one should take the name of Jesus Christ in vain.


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The 1971 Broadway musical "Godspell," opens with the Voice of God spoken by Jesus Christ who declares his Godhead: "My name is known: God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning may be and no end." The most famous song in the musical is "Day by Day," a paraphrase of one prayer in the Ignatian Exercises. Expressing the essence of the feast of Christ the King and the Incarnation, the lyrics read as follows:  

"Day by day, day by day

Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: 

To see thee more clearly, 

Love thee more dearly, 

Follow thee more nearly, 

Day by day." 

Finally, the feast of Christ the King boldly affirms the providential care of Christ over persons, families, the culture, the state, and the entire universe.  Great figures in history have built a better world, but only "Jesus Christ, our sovereign King, is the world's salvation."  He is the answer to the question:  "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." 

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