On the prow of the massive ocean liner, third-class passenger Jack Dawson played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1997 movie Titanic experiences one of the best moments of his life. Hovering dangerously over the icy waters below, he shouts out in a fit of ecstasy with arms extended overhead, “I’m the king of the world!” At the 1998 Oscar ceremonies, Titanic won eleven awards. Upon accepting the Academy Award for Best Director, James Cameron raised the trophy over his head and also shouted, “I’m the king of the world!”
Saint John, one of the twelve apostles, makes a rather bold statement. He says that whoever “believes that Jesus is the Son of God” actually “conquers the world” (1 John 5:5). In other words, there is something about a disciple of Christ that enables him or her to become king of the world by conquering it.
The “kosmos” that John refers to is the world apart from God and in opposition to him. Those with faith in Jesus Christ, however, conquer the defiant rebellion of that world. With the knowledge that Christ has saved us and remains with us “even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20), we can have the strength to endure the attacks of this world, with its regrets, disappointments, frustrations, and failures. For in Christ we have the indestructible hope of final victory.
Notice however that John intertwines this conquering hope with love of others. In other words, there is a link between the Christian triumph over the world and connection with other people of faith. Just as someone who loves his or her own father also naturally loves his or her siblings, so too love of God and love of our brothers and sisters in Christ are inseparable parts of the same experience.
Indeed, according to William Falk, Editor-in-chief of The Week magazine, “much of our happiness flows from our connections to other people, our sense of community and joint purpose.” In this regard, however, Falk contends that we are “in distinct decline.” Instead of communal kinship, “the ceaseless hunt for money, security, and consumer goods, dominate most people’s lives; time for family and friends, and the activities that build community and meaning, is often scarce. Loneliness is epidemic” (Mar. 30, 2018, 3). Referring to the now-familiar Danish concept of hygge, Falk argues that what our society really needs is this deep recognition: “Richness comes from human connection” (Id.).
Last week, we began a new Sunday message series that we’re calling, Bold Moves. During this Easter season, we want to encourage you to consider some bold moves in your spiritual life of faith. As we heard in the first reading, the apostles began the great adventure of spreading the faith by sharing everything in common.
One bold move you can resolve to make is to spend more time with this faith community. Explore our website (www.strendanparish.org) for the many opportunities to serve, give, and join our small groups, and conquer the world through some bold connections.
Father Roger Gustafson