The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
November 23, Mt. 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.”
Today’s Gospel selection for this Solemnity of Christ the King begins with Jesus, the Son of Man, coming in his glory, seated on a majestic throne with all the peoples of creation before him. Sounds very regal and kingly. And then, in the same Gospel, he identifies himself with the least of humanity. Jesus identifies himself as hungry, thirsty, as a stranger, naked, as one in prison. And he tells his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.” Jesus, the glorious King who comes to judge the nations and is surrounded by his legions of angels, counts himself among the very least of the world.
I have mentioned before in these homilies the unique image of God in the mind of St. Francis of Assisi. Our image of God, Jesus, is important to us, for our image of God becomes our mirror in which we look to know ourselves and in which we are eventually healed and affirmed. Francis maintained that our God is a humble God. This almost sounds like a complete contradiction and it certainly turns the common image of God up-side-down. Francis would have none of the image that has God sitting on a golden throne in splendor and majesty. He pictured his humble Lord as one born in a stable and placed in a manger for a crib because there was no room for the King of Kings in the local inn. Francis further pictured Jesus as a wandering preacher with no money, no home, and quite literally, no where to lay his head to rest and sleep. He added to this Jesus hanging on the cross on Calvary, crowned with a crown of thorns, hanging between to criminals, two thieves, and dying burdened with the sins of all humankind. It was this image of God that he wrote about in his Letter to the Entire Order when he wrote the following lines:
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The God of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
So humbles himself
That for our salvation
He hides himself
Under an ordinary piece of bread!
Brothers and Sisters, look at the humility of God,
And pour out your hearts before Him!
That you may be exalted by Him.
This was Francis’ God – the same God revealed to us in today’s Gospel. We are further told in the Scriptures (Philippians 2:3) that, “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Our greatness as disciples of Jesus lies in our ability to identify with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, those in prison. Thus we see the truth of one of the great paradoxes of Scripture: Those who humble themselves shall be exalted. May it be so with us.
Monday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 24, Luke 21: 1-4
Today’s Gospel selection reinforces yesterday’s and tells the story of Jesus standing in the Temple where he watched some very wealthy people putting their offerings into the Temple treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins, all she had to live on. Poverty really has nothing to do with money. Poverty is a giving of oneself, one’s gifts and talents, in the service of others. The widow was giving or herself. This is the poverty of Jesus. And when we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, we are giving of ourselves.
There can be no selfishness in a disciple of the Lord. It just cannot be all about me. It is all about us. And in doing things in this manner we find our happiness and joy. The Gospels have been on this topic in one fashion or another now for a week or so. We are for the other. How many times do we have to be hit over the head with a hammer before we pay attention? Greatness lies in humility, in our ability to reach beyond and outside of ourselves in service to others.
Tuesday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 25, Luke 21: 5-11
“All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
We are approaching the end of another Liturgical Year. This coming Sunday will be the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new Liturgical Year. And with this comes the apocalyptic literature such as we find in today’s Gospel. The people in Jesus’ time looked around at what they saw going on in the world and thought that because of all the evil, worry, famine, etc., that they saw, the world was surely coming to a quick ending. But we know that such is not the case. We could, and some still do, look at our world today and the many atrocities that are going on and come to the same conclusion: the end is near.
But Jesus tells us that is not the way it is. Evil will happen: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place, and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky ….. but it will not immediately be the end.” In the meantime, we are to take the word of God as our “sword” and do the best we can to combat these evils, which we know will be overcome by good in the end. This is the ultimate conclusion of all apocalyptic literature.
Wednesday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 26, Luke 21: 12-19
Today’s Gospel message is pretty much the same as yesterday’s. Maybe today we can ask ourselves how we should combat these evils we experience in our world. This whole thing reminds me of a happening in my life a short while ago.
I was in a parish celebrating the First Reconciliation experience of many young children from this parish. There were quite a few of the nervous “little darlings” who were going to make their first confession. The parents who accompanied their children on this special evening were also invited to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And I think that is where the meaning of this whole thing lies. Many of the parents began their confession by saying they had last gone to confession many years ago. It wasn’t something they did very often. I have had some that haven’t gone since their own first confession!
Now it suddenly dawns on them that they don’t want this same thing to happen to their own child they are presenting for their first confession, and to make sure that it doesn’t they are going to have to start making confession a part of their lives as it should have been all along. They realize that this is one fine way to combat all the nonsense going on in the world today that is just waiting out there to trap these children. And the best thing about all of this is that the parents are excited about helping their children in this way. How wonderful! Chalk one up for the kids! When is the last time you and your children attended the Sacrament of Penance together?
Thursday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 27, THANKSGIVING DAY
I hope that many of you begin your Thanksgiving Holiday by attending the Mass of Thanksgiving at your local parish. And if you do, your chances are good that you will hear the Gospel read from Luke 17: 11-19. This is where Luke tells of the cleansing of the ten lepers from their horrible disease. And after their cure, only one, a Samaritan, returns to Jesus to thank him. Jesus’ first question is: “Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
The message is that we should not be like the nine who didn’t return to say thank you to Jesus. God has done so many wonderful things for us and often times we forget to say thank you. Today is a good day to pause and tick off the many things in our minds that God has done for us this past year. I personally would like to thank him for another year of sobriety, for my reasonably good health and for the strength to still be able to serve him and his people in various ways. I also thank him for some of my endeavors that didn’t work out too well, for the occasional crosses and disappointments that are part of life. I have learned and grown from all these things and realize they came from Him with a purpose.
We should all try and develop an “attitude of gratitude” in our lives. Hopefully this Holiday will be a reminder of this.
Friday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 28, Luke 21: 29-33
“When you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.”
Time flies, or Tempus fugit, as they say in the Latin. Time passes one day at a time and it is what we do with that passing time that makes the difference. This reminds me of an old Sanskrit Proverb that I read often. It goes like this:
Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lies all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of creation,
The glory of power –
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow a vision.
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
These are wise words, indeed. I’m sure you have heard the remark: If you want to make God laugh, tell him what your plans are for tomorrow. In AA and other 12 Step groups aimed at arresting addictions, we often hear the cliché: One day at a time. And I have come to believe that that is sound advice. Yesterday is gone and I cannot change one word or one thing I did yesterday. Tomorrow is not here yet and it may not come for me. I do not know the day or the hour. So, all I really have is today. Let’s let the “buds of life burst open”today because that is all we really have. Let’s try to focus on one day at a time and make today the best it can be. As the proverb above says, that is what will make our yesterdays dreams of happiness.
Saturday of the Last Week in Ordinary Time
November 29, The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Ordo, or liturgical calendar that we use to know what Liturgy to celebrate on any given day, sets aside Saturday as a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary when there is no other Memorial being celebrated. This practice makes Saturday a special day reserved many times throughout the year for a Special Lady. I often forget this custom. Ever since I have been in AA, I have become a “Jesus person.” I regard him as my Higher Power without whom I can do nothing. He is my way, truth and life.
But I shouldn’t put the Blessed Mother on the shelf, as I often do. Jesus gave her to us as our Mother. She is the Mother of the Church and of each of us. When my earthly Mom was alive, I visited her as often as I could and thought of her often. I still do as I look at her picture on a stand in my room. I should give the same consideration to Mary, my heavenly Mother. She has been so good to me in many instances in my life. I should not forget her.
Mary, remember me as I remember you on this Saturday.