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Contents: Volume 2 - Christ the King of the Universe - 11-25-18


 

CHRIST

the

KING

2018

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Christ the King of the Universe 2018

These readings are far easier to hear and read than last week's! The message for me is that in spite of all the chaos that might happen, Jesus is the King of the Universe, always was, always will be. There is a solemn peace about that statement, a comforting pro-active withdrawal from all the turmoil that may be both internal and external.

How do we live the statement, actually live that kind of life though, when so much still swirls in us and around us, sometimes consistently or sometimes randomly and surprisingly? It is definitely not a "giving in" surrender. Jesus"s words give us an answer: He says that he was born and came into the world "to testify to the truth".

I think that as followers of Jesus, we need to do the same, actively and with serenity. We need to strive to lead authentic lives, based on truth and seeking truth. That truth comes from the Scriptures, from Tradition, and from a common sense living the words and actions in today's context that Jesus modeled for us in his.

How that plays out in everyday life varies for each of us. How a person seeks the truth may be in the form of a dialogue, something written, or by example in a tough situation. For instance, when a mis-match of objective truth and opinion presents itself, ignoring it is not seeking truth by claiming to be peaceful. Positive responding might take the form of attentive listening for clarification or by offering a varying viewpoint, straight-forwardly but not with hostility.

As baptized Christians, we belong to the Kingdom. In Daniel's vision, "all peoples, nations, and languages serve him", Christ the King, not just us, not just those who think and look and act just like us! Let us by our intentional silence and prayers and intentional words and actions strive to sow compassion, caring, understanding, and truth by showing authentic goodness and love of the King of us "all".

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe November 25, 2018

Daniel 7:13-14; Responsorial Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; Gospel Acclamation Mark 11:9-10; John 18:33-37

It is finished. In John’s gospel (chapter 19:30) Jesus speaks the words: "Consummatum est". Of course that is a Latin translation of the Greek in which John’s gospel was written. That is the Greek that translates Jesus’ actual last words in his native language. We think of this as a period at the end of the sentence of his life of ministry to the people of Galilee and Judaea. If we think of those words that way, we miss terribly the intent of John’s narrative. It’s not a laborer who leaves a plowed field, an electrician who closes a circuit, not even a mathematician who puts down the chalk of an equation. It is more the sense the workers see the car has been built. It’s time we see what she can do. Or it’s the carpenter who pats the dining table and sets it with dinnerware, silverware, and food and drink. It’s not finished in the sense of I’m done. It’s finished in the sense of I’ve got the conditions and environment ready for what’s the beginning. And that beginning is the Kingdom of God. In John’s gospel, the underlying theme is that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven is NOW. It’s not something at the end of time. Last week we heard about the tumult, the distress, the awful and exceedingly terrible violence and upheaval at the end of time. John’s gospel speaks about the end of time as a process, an ongoing event whose pain is akin to that of an expectant mother’s pain in bringing new life into the world. That is Paul’s understanding of the troubles that arise from an incomplete nature and the evil of those whose hearts are deprived of the grace that is love of other.

Jesus’ final words listed in John mean we’re on our way to the fulfillment of God’s dream. That dream is that humanity flourishes and thrives. That dream means that each person – not just the rich, not just the powerful – decides how to reach personal fulfillment. God doesn’t have a specific plan for each of us. God gave us freedom so that we can choose that we can come to understand our own personal uniqueness and build on that to become all that is possible for us. This fulfillment has little to do with power, or wealth, or influence. It has to do with what we are – what is the content of our characters.

The story of the ministry of Jesus is a part of who Jesus is. But so also are his birth, his childhood, and his adolescent. He developed a skill in the practice of carpentry. With that skill in his life’s trajectory he would provide himself and typically a family with nourishment, shelter, and clothing. His work would give him standing in his social, religious, and civic community. The resulting social interaction with extended family and communities of work and worship taught him about relationships and gave substance to a relationship with his Creator Father. Please, don’t let us fragment Jesus Christ into only the terrible hours on Calvary! We cannot leave out his birth, his childhood, his young adulthood, and his trade. These all led him to his ministry of healing, teaching, and releasing captives from what destroyed their freedom. Even though we know very little about his childhood and certainly nothing about his adolescence, we believe he owned a house in Capharnaum and was considered a successful carpenter. Even if we link the cross to his Resurrection we miss much of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. The Resurrection is the Father God’s stamp of approval on his son. But it’s not a stamp of approval only on his death. Remember the narrative about the Transfiguration and the loud voice at his Baptism? "This is my beloved Son!" These two events were before Calvary and the Empty Tomb.

The life of Jesus is a model for us. Remember Bartimaeus, the blind beggar? His life was only about survival one day at a time. Yet it is said of him, given sight, that he leapt up and followed Jesus. He followed Jesus into the grand city Jerusalem and the fabulous temple. It was the way of Jesus, not so much where but how and what he did. There is the grand entrance of acceptance on what we remember as Palm Sunday. There is Jesus cleansing the temple of corruption and misbegotten themes of God’s presence. There is a warning in the cleansing that we not get comfortable with our conceptions of piety and devotion and fail to grow in hope, in faith, and most of all in charity. Without charity our faith is self-serving and more of the way of the world than the way of Jesus.

The lesson of Christ the King for us is complicated by the details of our daily living. If we recall the feast of Christmas, that grand old pagan feast of light that we Christians converted and make our own: if we recall that feast, we should concentrate on the theme of light. The details of daily living are cast into bold relief when seen and understood in the light of the Christ. Jesus taught, worked, healed, and freed those held captive. He also fed the hearts, minds and bodies of more than five thousand counting only the men-folk. So also our days are filled with the same works that Jesus did only in less grand ways. All of life is about growth. And that growth comes most often when our character and skills and education are challenged by adverse and even evil energies. We grow in the way of Jesus whose awful sufferings led to a resurrection. We are not fools who seek to hurt ourselves: we don’t believe that pain is salvation! We believe in our faith in God present with us. We believe we will never be left alone as we struggle and work through the difficulties that present themselves. We know that with God’s help we’ll come through all pain, all suffering with a resurrection not only after our final journey but even now. As John writes in is gospel, the Kingdom of God is now and is moving forward with the help of the faithful. Its ultimate goal is the completion of the Kingdom of God. We are not alone in this great journey. We have a shepherd who knows how it is with us humans. This Shepherd is not a god of gold or silver. This is no god formed of clay. This is no god riding at the top of a popularity poll. This is the God born of the Creator who came to enlighten our lives with meaning and purpose. His presence provides us with vast resources of joy and peace.

Our story does not end with "it is finished." There follows a new life. Just as the dandelion spreads its seeds on the slightest breeze or the most powerful of storm winds, so this work of Jesus is spread into our spirits. This is not only his work on the cross but also his work as a growing, learning child, as an adolescent finding a place for himself in the world. This is a narrative of a young man perfecting his carpentry skills, as a young adult building a business and establishing his own house. There is more to the story than Calvary. There is also the testimony of the empty tomb. Its emptiness carries the message that death has lost its grip. There is more, there much more than that. But even the resurrection into a transformed living isn’t the end. There is also the ascension, the going home to Dad.

The seeds planted by this wonderfully full life, this most horrific of deaths, and the raising into a new creation, the first-born as it were of those who would follow – those seeds have been planted. Ever so gradually it grows – with fits and starts. There are errors, there is wonderful growth, and there is awful decay and corruption. But steadily this first-born’s life and new life spread and capture persons’ thinking and influences and changes lives.

This is God with us, the Emmanuel dreamed of by the whole Israelite nation for five thousands of years. If this is God why is it that suffering continues, why is corruption still fathered and mothered by power and wealth? Why is it that all have not been touched by the message? Doesn’t this question the title "Emmanuel?" Doesn’t this make our God a figment of our longings, our desires for relief, of our imaginations? If God is so very great and so transcendent why doesn’t God just fix our problems? How like us to think we need someone to fix our problems!

We forget that we are God’s creation. We are different from the rest of creation. It’s all about being created in the Image and Likeness of God’s own being. The gift of life is a gift we share with all living beings and with all of creation. Our unique gift is the gift of freedom. We make decisions on what is good for us moment by moment. There seems to be within us an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. We know that from culture to culture there are contradictory judgements about what is good and what is bad. That does not take away the understanding that each person has freedom.

The stories of the faith of our ancestors are hinged on freedom. The event and the journey that formed the Israelite nation was the Exodus. The Exodus was the freeing of a loosely knit group of twelve tribes from a harsh slavery of a command and control Pharaoh. The three narratives found in the book of the prophet Isaiah chronicle the depravity of the nation of Juda, the surviving political unit of the Hebrew tribes. Their depravity and loss of faith accompanied their acceptance of the gods of Assyria. The nation fell divided into factions that weakened them and made them easy prey for the Babylonian Empire. They were exiled into slavery in Babylon and in the City States of the Babylonian Empire. But again these slaves were freed from slavery. What is often forgotten and overlooked about the Babylonian captivity is that this was a time of great soul-searching. During this time the great stories of God’s intervention were written down, retrieved from oral traditions that reached back a thousand years.

Always, in the time of the Hebrew Scriptures, in the time of the creation of the narratives of the Christian Scriptures, and in our own days of violence, disbelief, and worship of false gods, God seems to constantly be at work, inspiring us, leading us to freedom. Well, perhaps not to freedom. It is more likely that he clears the way for us to use our freedom to choose the paths on which we walk as we spend the grandest gift, the gift of life.

May our Shepherd, our magnificent, caring King inspire us and model for us how we are to live!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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CELEBRATING JESUS CHRIST OUR KING (YEAR B)

When we think of a king, we tend to think of a throne, a crown, a palace, robes, great wealth, power and prestige, armed forces guarding and protecting him, and people bowing and kneeling before him.

But when we think of Jesus, what do we see? He has no throne, crown, robes, palace, or soldiers. We see him walking the dusty roads of Palestine with a little band of disciples. He is surrounded by the poor and the sick, by sinners, outcasts, rejects, the ‘battlers’ and the broken. In short, he is surrounded by the kind of people who would never get inside the gates of a palace today, let alone talk to a king or queen.

Jesus, then, is not that kind of king, and yet we don’t hesitate to say of him now that ‘Jesus is Lord’, to call him the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, and to acknowledge that he is ‘the king of the whole world’ and ‘the Lord of all’.

But even before God the Father raised him from the dead and crowned him with glory and honour and a place at his right hand, Jesus was already a king, as he admitted to Pilate in our gospel today. In the darkness of his own time and world, he was an endless source of light, goodness, and hope. He was what we might call today ‘a people person’. Just by being the kind of person he was, people were attracted to him. They sensed that he spoke and acted with authority, that he was a man of influence, and that he could make things happen for the better. Over and over again, his kind and generous heart went out to the poorest, most vulnerable and wounded people of his day. So much so, that whenever he saw a wrong, there and then he wanted to right it.

He was a leader all right, consistently courageous and compassionate. He was so great a leader that to this day, he remains our inspiration. He is still your king and mine.

Contrast the leadership of Jesus to that of some of the rulers of our days. Think of such tyrants as Sadham Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Robert Mugabe. One of the features of their iron control has been their ‘cult of personality’. They idolise themselves. They put themselves on pedestals. Everywhere they put around pictures or statues of themselves, pictures and statues that turn them into idols. But in the eyes of their people, those idols stand for oppression, cruelty, and terror. So when eventually their evil regimes collapse, the first thing people do is pull down those idols and smash them to the ground in pieces.

In the years when Communism was collapsing in Europe, Time magazine published a touching picture, taken in the Ukraine, formerly a Russian satellite state. It showed a group of people gathered in prayer around a simple altar in a public place. Standing on the altar was a bust of Jesus. Time’s picture of that statue said it all. The idols have been toppled, and Jesus the Messiah-King is back in his rightful place.

What a contrast between his rule and the rule of the idols! The idols command; Jesus invites. The idols rule through fear; Jesus rules through love. The idols bring oppression and death; Jesus brings freedom and life. No wonder we give him an allegiance and a loyalty which we would never give to any other person or institution on earth!

The Kingdom of Christ is made up of all those things we long for – all that is right and true, all that is beautiful, just, and good. Our Preface for the feast today calls it ‘a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace’.

Christ our King doesn’t need or want soldiers and tanks. But he does need witnesses, people who are ready to stand up for justice, truth, peace, kindness, compassion and care. Both out there and within ourselves, one big struggle still goes on between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, between the kingdom of lies and the kingdom of truth, between the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of justice, between the kingdom of malice and nastiness, and the kingdom of acceptance and respect, of love and care.

On which side are we? Where do we stand? To whom do we belong? To whom are we bound? Who has our lasting loyalty and allegiance?

You and I know our answer to that. So today, let us renew our loyalty and allegiance to Jesus, our King, and the King of the Whole Wide World!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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