SUNDAY of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
On this Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This Sunday is the last Sunday of the present Church year. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical cycle. I believe it is entirely fitting that we bring the liturgical year to an end with the Feast of Jesus as our King.
A king is a ruler, and as such he is one who holds a preeminent position. A king is numero uno. And I know of no one who fits this title better than the humble Jesus of Nazareth. Down through the ages there have been kings and there have been kings: good ones and bad ones, humble ones and proud ones, caring kings and egotistical kings. And the list could go on and on. But there is only one King of kings. The Book of Revelation (19:10) calls Jesus King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus is the King of the kingdom of Light. He is good, kind, loving and compassionate. And as St. Francis points out to us, he is humble. I love Francis of Assisi’s description of Jesus as God and King in his prayer of praise: “All-powerful, most holy, most high, and Supreme God: all good, supreme good, totally good. Your who alone are good.” This is our King, Jesus. Jesus is the Lord and King of the Kingdom of Light. We prepare for his coming again into this world of darkness and sin. It is Jesus who leads us through the darkness into his wonderful light. Light brightens, illuminates; light lights the path and makes our journey so much easier. We are all seeking happiness and freedom from suffering. Despite this, at some time or another in all of our lives, we are unhappy and we do suffer. It is part of life. And when this happens, we look for a way out, for something or someone to return us to what we so deeply desire.
Jesus is a most approachable King. All I have to do is turn my thoughts in his direction and ask for help, and he is there. He listens and he will help. All we have to do is ask. He told us, “Come to me all you who are tired and burdened and I will refresh you.” This is his invitation to all of us.
Today, on this Feast of Christ the King, let us take the biggest problem that we have right now, right at this moment, the thing that is bugging us most today, and lay it at the feet of our King asking for his help, concern, compassion. He will grant our request. And why not? His is our loving King.
MONDAY of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Yesterday we proclaimed that Jesus is our King and Lord. Today’s Gospel selection is a beautiful follow-up to yesterday’s celebration. Jesus is my King and I give him everything that I have. The woman in the Gospel surrendered her whole life to her King, everything that she had, and for this she is remembered and honored in the Gospel.
We must make a decision somewhere along the line to make that same surrender. We must place our lives, all that we have, in the hands of our King and Lord. The widow in the Gospel had only two small coins yet she willingly gave them both to her God whom she loved. She was now totally dependent on him for her welfare. That is surrender. And you can bet she wasn’t disappointed.
We have spoken many times in these homilies about “letting go with both hands.” That is the definition of faith and trust in God I have offered you so often. And I offer it to you and repeat it over and over again because I know it works. I also realize it is difficult to do, to take that first step of surrender and that is why I keep repeating it over and over to you and to myself.
Jesus, today help me to give you my all, all that I have. Please place your loving and caring hands upon me and show me that you are all I really need.
TUESDAY of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel begins by telling us about some people who were standing around talking “about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,” when Jesus saw them and told them in no uncertain terms that all the wonderful things they were looking at and commenting on were not really worth a hill of beans, as the old saying has it. It all really doesn’t matter, Jesus told them, because eventually it will amount to nothing at all. Let’s not be taken in by the “glitter of gold” we see around us all the time. All of our technology and what have you is beautiful to look at and wonderful to behold, but in the long run it matters not.
What does matter? We are now about to enter the season of Advent, the word that reminds us that Christmas is coming, that Jesus’ birthday is once again at hand. And that is what matters! I am not a scrooge and I am not encouraging you to be Scrooges either. It is good to show our love for those in our families and to our friends at Christmas time in the way of giving gifts that is part of our culture. But let’s not spend all our time these Advent days standing around enjoying the lights and glitter of the season and thinking about the gifts we are going to give and receive. It is also, over all, the time once again to check out our progress in our spiritual journey as we begin another year of searching for the ways of Jesus in the Gospels. Putting everything in its proper place is a good axiom to remember at this time of the year.
WEDNESDAY of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel selection is in part the same Gospel read on the Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year on Nov. 18. It tells us something that we all know only too well: Troubles and crises will come. They are part of life. Violence, hatred, terrorism, illness, disease, the death of family members and friends, losing a job — all these things and more happen. And they happen all too often. We know this. The question is: how do we handle these things when they do happen? We have given the answer to this question many times. It revolves around the third of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: Made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him. Turn the troubles and crises over to Jesus whether they bother us physically, mentally or spiritually.
Jesus tells us in the Gospels that if we become tired or burdened to come to him and he will refresh us. Jesus is the door (John 10). If we go through him we will be saved, we will be happy and serene despite what is going on in our lives. Jesus is the way (John 14), the truth and the life. Jesus is the solution to the problems and tribulations of life, whatever they may be.
Jesus, in time of trouble and difficulty, bring us to you, the source of happiness and peace.
THURSDAY of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
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 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Andrew, called by Jesus to be one of the Twelve, was the brother of St. Peter and also a fisherman. He was attracted to John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord, and became one of his disciples. But when Andrew saw John point to Jesus and proclaim, ” Behold the Lamb of God,” he left the lesser to follow the greater.
Andrew was the first disciple of Christ. He brought his brother Simon (Peter) to the Lord who also called him to be a disciple. These two left their trade as fishermen and stayed with Jesus all the time. We all know the rest of the story.
When Jesus ascended to the Father, Andrew went to Greece to preach the Gospel. Legend has it that he was put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived for two days, tied to the cross, still preaching from the cross the way of Jesus. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
SATURDAY of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time
Remember how, as children, we would wait for Santa’s coming on Christmas Day? Talk about excitement! You could feel it in the air! A week or so before Christmas, we would go with Dad to get the Christmas tree. It had to be just right, perfectly shaped all the way around. Sometimes this took a while. Then Dad would tie it to the car and we were off for home. Mom was the chief trimmer of the tree. At the end of this process of getting all the lights and decorations in their proper place, we were allowed to put on the icicles (one strand at a time). How beautiful it was when it was finished. Then came Christmas Eve. As we lay in bed we tried to keep our eyes open to hear Santa come. But somehow I always managed to fall asleep and miss him. The excitement in the morning was unbelievable. Santa had come and left many presents for all.
Sad to say, I don’t get that excited at Christmas coming any more. I wish I could – or would. And I know I should because the one coming is the center of attraction on Christmas, now as always. Jesus, the Almighty Son of God, comes to live with us as one of us. Unbelievable! That very thought causes much excitement.
Jesus, help me to see the true meaning of Christmas Day. It is not all about presents and decorations and such. It is about YOU. Help my heart to burn with excitement and love of you.