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Contents: Volume 2 - CHRIST the KING
Year B November 21st, 2021

 

Christ

the

KING

(B)


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

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

 

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1.

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Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 2021

Our readings point out the strength of being King, namely dominion, power, glory, and being served. Jesus rightly deserves this kind of exultation. Jesus, however, did not emphasize his kingship over anyone by focusing on personal power. He demonstrated the truly authentic part of being "king". Jesus spent his life in service to others by taking care of others, including each of us.

My now 13 year old granddaughter and I had a short but interesting conversation about people in power. She said those who demean or harm others were the really weak ones, by not helping others. Such an insightful thought is counter-cultural in many settings today, but so was Jesus's viewpoint in his time.

Jesus certainly deserves to be celebrated for at least the 50 titles from the Bible that Google attributes to Him! This solemnity is a great feast which can encompass them all and more. We rejoice that Jesus's life is based on his supreme triumph over evil in its many forms. As we celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, let us remember that this Kingship was not given to Jesus just because he is the Son of God, but rather because of His caring actions as the Son of God. Jesus modeled all those titles rolled into one by being our Brother, King of the Universe!

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 21 2021

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

The apocalyptic readings from last Sunday seem to continue this week-end. Daniel pictures the coming of the Son of Man – that mythical figure of many cultures in the Middle East in the time before the birth of Jesus. That Son of Man is always depicted as arriving riding on the clouds of heaven, in great light, surrounded by the glory of God – what the Jews name Shekinah, the clear and certain sign of the active presence of The Transcendent One. This is the God of the high places, El Shaddai. It is the revelation of Yahweh to Moses at the burning bush. The picture in Daniel and in Psalm 93, that psalm of inauguration of the Lord as king, are images of finality. The struggle that is always present in human existence is over. The cosmic task is completed. And the Son of Man is presented to the Ancient One, the God known by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and David. This ending in apocalyptic narratives signals the end of the great conflict, the great struggle. The challenge of evil in a world created and declared by its author as a wonderful good is being resolved. There is a new King, the start of the complete reign of the Lord. The end of this old, chaotic, world engaged in an epic battle of good versus evil is not so much an ending as it is the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth.

The psalm, psalm 93, is a song of inauguration of the King. It signals the end of the chaos endemic to the old world. The fight is finished and victory has been won by those who walk, who think, who conduct their lives in truth, in hope for things unseen, and in charity for others – even enemies – as well as in respect for all that is created. For it is knowing things and people as God, the creator, knows and respects the works of his hands that is living in truth, in hope, and in charity.

There are several references in these reading to the concept of dominion. Some would take this reference to mean dominating over creation and others without regard to their dignity and worth in the eyes and heart of the Creator. The Creator is presented to us in the book of Genesis assigning humanity dominion over living beings, over birds of the air and fishes in the seas, over vegetation covering the earth, and over all waters and dry lands. There are many if not most who believe this means using all that creation according to human pleasure, profit, or whim. This erroneous thinking lacks the depth of wisdom, understanding, and appreciation of God’s declaration that all that is created is indeed GOOD. the creation of living beings and of humanity on the sixth day of that epic series of days is the crowning point of creation and is VERY GOOD. To humanity the Creator gives the responsibility of dominion and of caretaking. That dominion and caretaking is for the purpose of seeing to it that all creation – ALL CREATION – flourishes and everyone and everything has what it needs to survive and thrive.

What a change from a use-it-up and throw-it-away culture of materialism, of secularism, of consumerism. The reign of the King we celebrate this Sunday is dominion over all creation – a challenge encircling an ever-expanding universe well beyond our little blue planet. The gospel reading is a warning to us that the fight is still underway. The forces of religion autocracy – note religion is not always faith in God – and the forces of power, wealth, and fame continue to exercise their self-serving goals. The struggle continues even though the Son of Man has arrived and shown us the way.

Before we get all caught up with gold vestments, incense, wonderful music, and a large assembly this Feast of Christ the King, let us remember how that King, our King, came to claim his kingdom. He entered into the ancient city Jerusalem – long believed in faith the seat of God among his people – he came into that city riding on the foal of a beast of burden. He came in humility not as a conquering tyrant but in humility. He came not to claim privilege and adulation but came in commitment of service to all peoples, all nations. The crowds that day shouted – Hosanna to the Son of David! They cut branches from palm trees to cover the road and to wave with joy. They cast their cloaks to still the dust and litter of the road. On that auspicious day, there was exceeding joy, delight at their welcoming the King to his city. Yet it was all in humility – certainly not riding in on a wind-swept cloud.

That humble entrance into the City of Peace – that is what the word Jerusalem means – is the start of the new heaven and the new earth. This is fashioned not in military power, by political maneuverings, by economic expansion, or by exploitative persons claiming religious commitment. The kingdom of the Lord is a kingdom in which all those accountable for the affairs of the kingdom embrace with loving kindness their responsibilities. The delegates of the King who are given dominion are given dominion so that all and everything has what it needs to flourish, to survive and to thrive. What a revolution! Responsibility is for caring for, not stealing from.

Psalm 93 is a short psalm. In those few verses excitement at the installation of the King is shouted. There is reference to storms, crashing seas – chaos associated with storms. This King makes the world stand firm – chaos disappears and peace and prosperity for each and every rest in their homes.

One of the great understandings of the most recent Ecumenical Council, Vatican II, is that the Church especially through its members is to be attentive to the signs of the times. If we have been paying attention, we see in the signs of the times a terrible storm of violence, division, and distrust and denial of truth. This is not indicative of the inauguration of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. Clearly the new heaven and the new earth promised in Hebrew and Christian Scriptures has yet to be achieved. We’ve got work to do. We begin again, next Sunday – the first Sunday of Advent - to discover and to apply the Way of the King to the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of the gift of life received. As we enjoy the vision of this solemn feast day of the Kingship of our Lord Jesus The Christ, let us once again resolve to reform our vision and apply the revelation that is God’s gift to us.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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CELEBRATING JESUS CHRIST OUR KING: YEAR B

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

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

But when we think of Jesus as king, 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, and rejects - the struggling 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 a different kind of king, and yet we don’t hesitate to say of him that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ to call him the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords,’ and to honour him as ‘our King’ and ‘the king of the whole wide world.’

But even before God the Father raised Jesus from the dead and crowned him with glory and honour and a place at his right hand, he was already a king, as he assures Pilate in our gospel today. In the darkness of his own time and world, he was an endless source of light, goodness, and love. People were drawn to him, because they sensed that he had authority and influence and could make things happen for the better. Over and over again, his kind and generous heart went out to the poorest, most vulnerable, and most wounded people of his day. So much so, that whenever he saw a wrong, there and then he wanted to right it. So consistently courageous and compassionate was he, that he remains our inspiration - your king and mine.

Contrast the leadership of Jesus to that of some tyrants of recent times, such as Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Robert Mugabe. One of the features of their iron control was their ‘cult of personality.’ All over the place, they put up pictures or statues of themselves, that turned them into idols. But in the eyes of their people, they stood for oppression, cruelty, and terror. So, when at long last their evil regimes collapsed, the first thing people did was to pull down those idols and smash them to pieces.

In the years when Communism was collapsing in Europe, Time magazine published a touching picture, taken in the Ukraine, once a Russian satellite state. It showed a group of people gathered in prayer around a simple altar in a public place. On their altar was a statue of Jesus that 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. His kingship is about truth and honesty, integrity and generosity, self-sacrifice and service, understanding and mercy, forgiveness and care. So, with grateful hearts we give him our sincere allegiance, loyalty, love and service.

The rule 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.’

Our King Jesus 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 reign of darkness and the reign of light, between the reign of lies and the reign of truth, between the rule of nastiness and malice, and the rule of acceptance and respect, love and care.

On which side are we? To whom do we belong? To whom are we attached? Who has our lasting loyalty and love? You and I know where we stand. So today, with the help of his ‘amazing grace’, let us renew our loyalty and allegiance to Jesus - our King, and the King of the whole world! Let’s make that commitment now, make it from our hearts, and make it real!

May the passion of Jesus Christ and his everlasting love be always within our minds and hearts!

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

 

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Year B: 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"So you are a King, then."

Have you ever been wrong about somebody - I mean completely, totally, one hundred percentally, utterly wrong about someone who you think you know, but actually you don’t. You think you know exactly what they are capable of and what they are not capable of – and then they go and do something so completely above and beyond your expectations of them that you realise that actually you never really knew them at all.

Well that is what Pilate is today. And it’s easy for us to see it. With 2,000 years of 20/20 hindsight, we know that Jesus is exactly who He says he is. And we are amazed that Pilate can’t see what seems so clear to us.

Well, maybe these things aren’t so easy in real time. So let me tell you my worst misjudgement.

When I was in theology, one of my friends was a young Pakistani nun I will call Marion. She had been sent by her religious order to London to get a degree before she would go back to teaching in one of their schools. But the problem was that she wasn’t very good at theology - in fact the only thing in her entire life that she was really any good at was teaching basic literacy to very small children.

She had been born in a small village in the North West frontier province of Pakistan near the Afghan border and, as she grew up, she saw poverty and suffering that most of us cannot begin to imagine. And as she grew, she came to believe that at least some of that poverty and suffering could be alleviated by the basic education of poor people. And so she had made the choice of her life to devote herself life to precisely that. She had joined a convent of teaching nuns and had settled down to a life living out that dream that was the limit of all her hopes and ambitions.

But now she had been sent to London to get a world class university degree. And she was just a very small shy, weak, anxious woman who was scared of everything:

  • - scared of the studies,
  • - scared of the lecturers,
  • - scared of the other students,
  • - scared of the big city
  • - scared of the rain
  • - scared of the cold
  • - at times she seemed scared of her own shadow.

To be honest, I didn’t find it easy to be her friend. All the time she seemed to need comfort and reassurance. Even simple problems seemed to intimidate her; the slightest setback caused her to despair. Every time, she was sure that she couldn’t continue, couldn’t cope with it any longer, would have to give it up. And her worst times always seemed to happen at six in the morning, when I got a constant stream of emails, text messages, phone calls. Small tip, if you want to catch Paul O’Reilly at his best, don’t pick six in the morning.

When she needed extra money for the rent, I got her a part time job as a receptionist in a doctor’s surgery - but after two weeks they had to let her go because she was too frightened even to answer the telephone.

When exam time came round she was a nervous wreck. Thank goodness she just about scraped a pass (I think the examiners were being kind) and prepared to go back to Pakistan and go back to spending her life doing the one thing that she’s really good at - which is teaching very small kids to read and write. And everybody concerned breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Then she received a letter from her Provincial Superior in Pakistan. It said that she was going to be sent to be the Headmistress of a Catholic secondary school for 1,200 girls, one third Christian, two thirds Muslim, in North West Pakistan, near the Afghan border - just about the time when the Taliban were becoming active.

Now, for most people, being a teacher is hard enough – at least that’s what they tell me and I’m inclined to believe them. Being a head teacher is harder. Being a head teacher in a big school is harder still. But being a head teacher in the biggest Catholic school in a place where it’s dangerous just to be a Christian and particularly dangerous to be educating girls – well I reckon that just has to be a challenge. And this was being asked of a woman who had a struggle just to get through a day as a college student!

To put it mildly, this did not seem to me a wise decision. In my time, I’ve seen religious superiors make some bad decisions, but this just seemed like a whole different category of barking madness. So, after much reflection and prayer, I set myself down to write a letter to her superiors expressing my concerns. It went through at least three drafts, as I gradually toned it down to a level that I hoped might persuade rather than alienate. And then… – well the reason I know there are guardian angels is that I never actually sent it.

Next July, it will twenty years ago that Marion went back to Pakistan. We kept in touch and within the first few days, I knew that I had been right. There was an endless stream of emails, texts and phone calls in which she described in some detail how difficult she was finding the work, the community, all the difficulties of her life. She spoke at length of her fears, her anxieties, her struggles with the staff, the parents, the government officials, the Police, the Taliban gunmen. Every time, she was sure that she couldn’t continue, couldn’t cope with it any longer, would have to give it up. I was sure she wouldn’t last three weeks. And unfortunately, 6am in Pakistan is two in the morning in this country. Small tip: if you want to catch Paul O’Reilly at his best, 2am is no better than 6am.

But gradually, weeks became months. And somehow she just kept hanging on in there. She told me that her spiritual director kept saying to her that her work was too important – she was allowed to complain, but she was not allowed to quit.

And after a couple of years, I began to notice that – in her emails, texts and phone calls – carefully concealed amongst all her complaints and anxieties were just occasional mentions of her girls doing well, getting good results, getting good jobs, going to universities that had never before admitted a Christian - or a woman.

And it made me just begin to wonder.

And twenty years on, I’m still wondering.

As you may have noticed, North West Pakistan has been in the news recently. And you’ll not be surprised to hear that there has been a recent increase in the volume of texts and phone calls I’m getting at 2 in the morning.

This time a couple of years ago, just after a bomb went off outside a Church she was attending, in which many of her students were killed and she herself was injured, she wrote me this:

"This surely isn’t a very nice email. Because our wounds are so fresh that we are talking about bombs all the time. Now we know that poverty is curse and illiteracy a big evil. People are bought to commit crime. They kill people just for money. Children have no books but guns in their hand in the tribal areas where the war is going on at present about 40 miles away from us near the Afghan Pakistan border. In this North West Frontier province only two or three per cent of women are educated and they are treated worse than animals. I firmly believe that if women were educated they would make a difference. If God puts it in my power I will educate every girl in this Province. Please pray for us."

So, I think I was wrong about Marion. I still believe that she is the most fear filled woman I have ever known. I still wouldn’t hire her as a doctor’s receptionist. But courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of hope. Only humans judge by appearances; God judges the heart. And she has a much bigger heart than I’ve ever given her credit for. Because Christ is the king of her heart. And whatever her other anxieties, she has given herself without reserve to Christ’s work in the world.

I am very proud to be her friend.

Let us stand and profess our pride in God’s rule in our lives.

Paul O'Reilly, SJ <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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