The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Nov. 22
John 18: 33-37
Today we celebrate Jesus as our King. This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year B of 2009. Next Sunday, November 29, is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new Liturgical Year C for 2010. It is fitting, I believe, that we crown the end of each church year and the beginning of the next by honoring and praising Jesus as our King, our Lord, our Ruler, our Redeemer and Friend.
In chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, we read: “Alleluia! The Lord our all-powerful God is King; let us rejoice, sing praise and give him glory.” (vs. 6 & 7). And in verse 16: “He has a name written on his cloak and on his thigh, “King of kings and Lord of Lords.” Jesus is indeed our King. Let every knee bend before Him!
Jesus, then, is our King. Let us rejoice, let us sing praises, let us give him glory. In these words we find the practical ramifications of calling Jesus our King.
Let us rejoice. Jesus is the only one who can bring us happiness, wholeness, holiness, completion, fulfillment. All of these things are sources of joy for us. They make things the way they were meant to be. Only in Him and through Him can the potential of each human being be realized. We need not fear, feel guilty or ashamed ever again! We are OK because Jesus is our King and Leader. Indeed, let us rejoice!
Let us sing praise. We praise our King by affirming him as King. This feast helps us do that. We praise him through our prayers of praise and thanksgiving for all the good and the not-so-good in our lives, by thanking Him for family and friends, by bringing to him our needs and concerns, by sharing our feelings with him, by communicating with him every day. We also praise him by sharing our happiness and fulfillment with others and by letting others know that our God is the source of our happiness, that without him being part of our lives we have and are nothing.
Let us give him glory. We give God glory by acknowledging him as our Lord and King, by listening to his words with all our attention, by seeking his will and being obedient to his wishes for us, by being the best we can be at what and who we are because of his gifts. This is the real practical part for us: to listen to what he asks of me and to obey his will. Obedience comes from the Latin word obedire and it means to listen to, to be subject to, to serve, to obey, to yield, to apply oneself to. It carries with it the idea of doing. We not only listen to or hear the words of Jesus, we do it. We don’t just sit around thinking about it, we put it into action. We give him glory when we make his values our own, when we are loving, compassionate, forgiving, serving, respectful and listening people. All of this requires discipline.
I hope all of us get the idea of what Jesus as King should mean to us. He surely is a King like no other. He is loving, caring, present, forgiving and serving all the time! What more could we possibly desire from a King?
Jesus, at your name every knee should bend. We adore you and praise you as our King.
Monday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 23
Luke 21: 1-4
Today’s Gospel story is that of the poor widow who went into the Temple and put two small coins into the treasury. The two coins were all she had and despite the wealthy putting large amounts in the treasure, Jesus commented concerning the widow, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered he whole livelihood.” She literally gave herself.
Many people interpret this story as encouraging us to give from our necessity and not from that which is superfluous. But there is another interpretation given by some of the Scripture Scholars: Earlier in Luke’s Gospel Jesus was angry with the revenues that came from the Temple worship and they see that anger continuing here. Jesus is angry at seeing the poor widow thinking that God would have her become destitute so others could become rich. This would be like robbing the poor and giving the money to the rich.
Do we in any way take advantage of minorities for our own benefit or profit? Do we complain when the poor do not contribute to the Parish coffers and speak ill of them for that? Worse yet, do we then neglect them spiritually when they are seeming to neglect the parish financially or materially? Indeed, this would cause Jesus to be angry.
Tuesday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 24
Memorial of the Vietnamese Martyrs
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Vietnamese Martyr St. Andrew Dung-lac and his companion St. Peter Thi. Sometime between 1820 and 1840, these two and many others were arrested and beheaded during the persecution of the Emperor. On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared 117 of these people martyrs to be among the ranks of the Saints.
Unfortunately, in our society today there are many minorities who are for all practical purposes martyred daily by prejudices and hatred. Needless to say, this is not the Christian way. Is there anything we can do to prevent this from continuing to happen over and over again in our little corner of the world?
Holy Vietnamese Martyrs, pray for us.
Wednesday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 25
Luke 21: 12-19
In our Gospel chosen to be read today, Jesus urges the crowd (and this includes us) to persevere in our faith even when things get a bit out of control from the way we would have them be. Jesus tells us that it is through our perseverance in these times that we will be saved.
This is a good Gospel to reflect on in our present day in the wake of the financial crisis which is hitting our country. I am meeting people who have turned their backs on the Lord because of these circumstances. Instead of running away from the Lord, they should be running toward him and asking for his help. Here is our friend surrender again. Jesus assures us that if we do this, if we persevere, if we hang in there with him, “not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” This is often the situation with any crisis that comes into our lives, not only the one dealing with finances. If we get pulled into any of this, let us pray that we remember which way to run.
Thursday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 26
On this Thanksgiving Day let us find a little private time to reflect on the many, many blessings we should be thankful for to the Good Lord. I find the hymn Now Thank We All Our God particularly apropos for this purpose:
Now thank we all our God,
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in his grace,
And guide us in distress;
And free us from all sin,
Till heaven we possess.
All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given;
The Son and him who reigns
With them in highest heaven;
The one eternal God
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.
Lord, today on this holy Holiday, we bow our heads in thankful appreciation.
Friday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 27
Luke 21: 29-33
“Know that the Kingdom of God is near.”
This coming Sunday we begin the season of Advent. Once again we wait and prepare for the coming of the Messiah at Christmas time; once again we know that the Kingdom of God is near. The Kingdom of God is now. It will culminate at some time unknown to us in the future, but it begins now. This Kingdom is not a place; rather it is a condition, a new way of life for human beings.
Just exactly what is this Kingdom of God? Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans (14:7) that the Kingdom of God “is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy.”
It is a Kingdom of Righteousness: It consists of goodness and ethical behavior toward all. Those belonging to the Kingdom know right from wrong, good from bad. They try to do that which is right and good realizing they are part of the good overcoming evil in this world.
It is a Kingdom of Peace: There is tranquility found in the members of this Kingdom. There is no chaos, nothing is out of order, things are the way they should be. There is a serenity that pervades the members of the Kingdom.
It is a Kingdom of Joy: In belonging to the Kingdom of God, the disciple finds happiness, wholeness, holiness and fulfillment. This Kingdom is unique in that belonging to it is the only way to find these things we desire deep in our hearts.
The Kingdom of God is manifested by our possession of the values of the Messiah: the members are loving, caring, compassionate, they respect the equality of all peoples, they are forgiving, serving, kind, gentle and they listen closely to God and to others. We are all part of this Kingdom. Little by little, through prayer and focus, we make progress and by our example we bring others to this Kingdom.
Lord, may your Kingdom come into our hearts and into the hearts of those in our families. Amen.
Saturday of the Final Week in Ordinary Time, Nov. 28
Luke 21: 34-36
Today’s Gospel selection once again warns the disciple of the Lord to be vigilant, to pay attention to the things of God and to keep at a distance the things in life that can and will distract us from the Lord if we let them.
Jesus uses the example of too much feasting that can distract us from the things of the Lord. I don’t think I would be bothered too much by this particular distraction but there are some others I have to be on the lookout for, particularly those distractions that seem to jump up every time I begin to pray. Sometimes I think my attention span is way too short anymore. Does that come with old age too? Sometimes I have to literally force myself to pay attention to what I am saying – and even that doesn’t work all the time. And I think, from what I hear, that all of us are bothered by this problem.
I read somewhere that the thing to do if we are distracted while praying is just to pray right through the distraction. Don’t stop. Don’t interrupt the prayer trying to get rid of the distraction. That way the distraction wins for sure. Praying right through the distraction seems to work pretty well for me. Soon the distraction disappears. All of this causes me to wonder if Jesus was distracted in those long periods of prayer in the mountains that he so often took time for.