Reflections for the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time 2012**
** These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Sunday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
N November 25, 2012 John 18: 33-37
T The Solemnity of Christ Our King
Today we celebrate Jesus as our King. This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year of 2012. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new Liturgical Year for 2013. 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 Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 26, 2012 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 her 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 Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 27, 2012 Luke 21: 5-11
The apocalyptic genre of Luke’s Gospel that appeared on the Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time reappears here in today’s Gospel on this Tuesday. Once again, we remember that the main message of apocalyptic literature is to let us know that good will overcome evil. It is not meant to frighten us to death! Good will overcome evil for those who endure. St. Francis told us at the end of his Rule that he who perseveres to the end will be saved.
So we pray again today for the grace to “hang in there,” to believe what we believe despite what anyone else says or does, to keep Jesus number one in our lives no matter what problems, illnesses or crises come into my life. Let us continue to thank God daily for all his blessings and to keep our attitudes positive. It is good to be reminded of this often and that’s what this Gospel is doing for us on this Tuesday.
Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 28, 2012 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 hit our country. I am meeting people who have turned their backs on the Lord because of financial 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 Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 29, 2012 Luke 21: 20-28
Today’s Gospel follows yesterday’s and reinforces what we said yesterday. Troubles are bound to come into our lives. But along with the coming of all these trials is also the coming of Jesus: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
Jesus, our Redeemer, the solution to our problems, is coming. Two days remain in this liturgical year. Then we begin once again to prepare for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day.
Lord, bless us in our expectation of your coming to us again and again and again. How good, how great, thou art!
Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 30, 2012 Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
The Apostle Andrew, like his brother, St. Peter, was a fisherman from Bethsaida. Andrew first was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. When Jesus came along, Andrew left John to follow Jesus. One of the things he asked Jesus was where Jesus lived and Jesus told him, “Come and see.” Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus. He introduced his brother, Peter, to the Lord and he followed Jesus, too, as we all know.
After our Lord ascended into heaven, Andrew went to Greece to preach the Gospel. It is believed that he was put to death on a cross to which he was tied, not nailed. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron Saint: Russia and Scotland.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
December 1, 2012 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. 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.