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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE (B)

November 21, 2021

Daniel 7: 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1: 5-8; John 18: 33b-37

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

PRE-NOTE: Here’s a Christmas gift idea for your favorite preacher and catechist. The new liturgical year begins next week, the first Sunday in Advent. We have prepared reflections on the Sunday readings on our updated CD for Liturgical Year C. We also have a CD containing reflections for all three liturgical years.

Go to http://www.judeop.org/cd.htm and click on "First Impressions CDS."



Israel Longed for an ideal King, like the Shepherd King David. This anticipated king, anointed by God, would bring a period of just rule and practice to Israel and Judah. But a long line of monarchs failed to live up to people’s yearnings and God’s standards. Despite the multiple failures by these rulers the people still believed God would keep the promise God made them. We pray our Psalm Response today focusing our eyes on God, with gratitude for having fulfilled the ancient promise by establishing the reign of Christ. "Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord."

We usually describe God’s establishing the "kingdom" on earth, with Jesus as our true king. True enough. But try on another description – the "Reign of God." Kingdom can sound stagnant, as if Christ is sitting on a throne somewhere far off. The "Reign of Christ," or the "Reign of God," suggests a present and active rule. Christ hasn’t left us on our own to observe the "rules of the Kingdom" which he revealed, ordered us to observe, left and promised he would return someday, to see how we did on our own. Rather, he has stayed with us, enabling us to be his instruments in the world. People should experience in us the loving presence of a new kind of ruler – one from humble origins, who proclaimed the Reign of God, washed feet, died to manifest God’s love for us, rose from the dead and breathed his Spirit on us, so we could live his life as citizens of the Kingdom/Reign of God.

Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" That claim would have been enough to get Jesus killed as a rival to Caesar and the Roman Empire. But Jesus’ kingship differed from all the world’s claimants to that title. He responds to Pilate’s question, "My kingdom does not belong to this world." But that doesn’t mean it is somewhere else. Jesus’ kingdom is very much here and now – in this world.

Let’s face it, the history of many, or most, of the world’s rulers hasn’t given humanity a favorable view of royalty. We are challenged on this feast to call Christ our King – indeed, "King of the Universe," as this feast reminds us

Nor is Jesus exempting us his followers from an involvement in this world. Quite the contrary. We have a part to play in bringing about Jesus’ Kingdom where peace, justice, truth and love are concrete signs that Jesus reigns in this world. When the world’s earthly rulers and institutions dominate by force, violence and economic exploitation, the source of Jesus’ power comes from a very different and holier source. Jesus’ rule calls us to a manifest "counter culture."

While the world’s rulers draw the lines of their power on a map, Jesus draws his on the human heart. We have welcomed King Jesus and his reign into our hearts and so our lives should constantly reflect the source and rule of the one we follow. We are all familiar with coronation ceremonies and have seen the crowning of kings and queens with great pomp and circumstance. Jesus’ reign began when he died on the cross, as the cynical sign Pilate posted over his head read, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Our king didn’t wear a crown of jewels, but a crown of thorns, and the purple robe of mockery. What armies did Jesus lead and what victories did he win? He fought and won a war against sin and death, a battle no mere human troops could ever win. As a result we can live his teachings of love, not by mere force of will, but by the power of his reign and the indwelling gift of the Spirit – the King’s Spirit.

Pilate sneered at the seeming-powerless, peasant preacher from Nazareth before him. He thought he was the judge and jury over Jesus’s fate. In his world being a king, or queen, meant sitting pompously on a throne, but cautious that some other force might come to snatch power away and usurp the throne. Jesus challenges Pilate’s and our notion of rule. Yes, he is a king, but he would not use power to coerce people to follow him and live under his kingship. Instead, people would follow Jesus because they would be attracted to the truth of who he is, "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

The evangelist John has Jesus on trial before Pilate. But Pilate is not the only one judging Jesus – we are the jury and must pass judgment as well. Is Jesus the truth we accept into our lives? Or, shall we follow the powers of the world and live by their rules? We are reminded on this feast that today is not just some theological, or ritual celebration. Our feast immerses us in the political world as well. We live in the world as citizens of Jesus’ realm. Will we accept that citizenship? How? By implementing the vision Christ has revealed to us through his life, death and resurrection.

Jesus’ kingdom, his world, is with us now. We have, through our baptism and the gift of the Spirit, been given the vision to see the presence of the kingdom and its life-giving possibilities. It is a world of community, equality, respect and dialogue. In the kingdom, under Jesus’ rule, each person’s gifts are recognized. The poor and neglected are empowered and no one is left out. Justice is given to each, regardless of their political influence, race, gender or economic status.

Citizens usually have papers, or documents, that attest they are citizens of the land. What do we have to prove we are citizens of Christ’s reign? We have the gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to give witness by our lives that we are followers of Jesus, citizens under his rule. In other words, our lives are more than ample proof of where and in whom our allegiance lies – who rules our hearts and minds.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112121.cfm

 

QUOTABLE

Pilate seems to miss the import of Jesus’ remarks; he heard the word "kingdom" and for him this is a political entity; and so he presses for a confession (37). Jesus will not categorically refuse to be known as a king..., but he indicates that he prefers to describe his role in terms of testifying to the truth. John has not portrayed Jesus as a preacher of the kingdom but as the unique revealer who alone can speak and show the truth about God. Jesus has no real subjects as would be true if his kingdom were like other kingdoms; rather he has followers who hear his voice as truth. Only those who belong to the truth can understand in what sense Jesus has a kingdom and is a king. The real reason that Jesus has been handed over to Pilate is precisely because he has borne witness to the truth: "The world...hates me because of the evidence I bring against it" (v.ii 7).

---- Raymond E. Brown, SS. THE ANCHOR BIBLE; THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN (XIII-XXI), page 869 .

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

"Jesus Christ. . .has made us into a kingdom."

Revelation 1: 5-6

What exactly does the author of Revelation mean that Christ’s followers are made into a kingdom? We know that Jesus did not live in a castle or rule over an empire. When Jesus spoke of kingdom, he was not speaking about a geographical area or a physical nation and not even a group of people. No, the kingdom of God is the rule and the mercy of God. Jesus’ reign is that of a true servant leader who sought to get people to think about how they treated one another, who modeled a simple lifestyle that marveled about creation, and who showed us the way to have a relationship with God. Jesus invited everyone to open their lives for the indwelling of God because the true location of the kingdom of God is hidden within each of us.

And how does one know that the kingdom has come within oneself? Pope Francis states: "Where God is born, hope is born. He brings hope. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war" (12/25/15). So, for the kingdom of God to be within a person, that person would have to be a bearer of hope and peace to the world, harbor no hatred in his or her heart, and find war to be an anathema. God is gracious and loving toward all people and so is the person for whom the kingdom has come. And do not forget joy. As Paul says in his letter to the Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit."

Have you ever experienced within yourself any of these attributes--hope, peace, love, grace, righteousness, simplicity, and/or joy? Do you remember the story of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32)? Jesus used this seed to say that the kingdom looks unimpressive but will grow into something tremendous. If you have just some of the attributes listed, isn’t that like the mustard seed? How will the kingdom grow in your life?

Look around you. Have you witnessed in others these attributes or seen it at work in a community? Wouldn’t that be a good place to plant yourself?  And do not forget the joy of having the way of Jesus to model the kingdom for you.

Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,

Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK.

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?"...

Jesus answered,

"My kingdom does not belong to this world."

Reflection:

Jesus’ kingdom, his world, is with us now. We have, through our baptism and the gift of the Spirit, been given the vision to see the presence of the kingdom and its life-giving possibilities. It is a world of community, equality, respect and dialogue. In the kingdom, under Jesus’ rule, each person’s gifts are recognized. The poor and neglected are empowered and no one is left out. Justice is given to each, regardless of their political influence, race, gender or economic status.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • Who or what set of values rule my life and guide my daily decisions?
  • What can I do to respond more fully to Jesus’ rule in my life

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"Love all my friends and all the friendships that I have made. They are like the sky. It is all part of life, like a big full plate of food for the soul. I hope I left everyone a plate of food full of happy memories, happiness and no sadness."

—Last words of Quintin Jones before he was executed on May 19, 2001 at Huntsville Prison, Texas. Media witnesses were not admitted to his execution.


This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Keith East #0511998 (On death row since 11/8/1995)
  • John Mc Neil #0275678 (11/10/1995)
  • Stacy Tyler #11/14/1995)

----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131

Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP,

St. Albert Priory,

3150 Vince Hagan Drive,

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to Fr. John Boll, OP at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to Fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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