“Jesus is King Over Sinners, Thieves, And The Dredge of Society! Which One Are You?!” – Luke 23:35-43†


 

Today is
“The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”

 

 

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States.  I wish to thank all of you for reading this blog, and sharing my profound and growing faith I have in our Magnificent and Glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Get your Advent Wreath out and cleaned up and ready to go for next week.

  

  

    

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   235 – St Anterus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   496 – Death of Pope St Gelasius I
†   695 – Pope Sergius names Willibrord as archbishop Clemens of Friezen
†   1567 – Birth of Anne de Xainctonge, Founder of the Society of the Sisters of Saint Ursula of the Blessed Virgin, French saint (d. 1621)
†   1854 – Birth of Benedict XV, [Giacomo PGB marques della Chiessa], 258th Pope (1914-22)
†   1964 – Pope Paul VI signs 3rd sitting of 2nd Vatican council

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

…Jesus did far more than give us an example of heroic meekness and patience. He made meekness and nonviolence the signs of true greatness.  Greatness will no longer consist in lifting oneself up above others, above the crowd, but in the abasing of oneself to serve and lift others up.”  – Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., CAP; Beatitudes: Eight Steps to Happiness, Servant Books 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being crucified under the title “King of the Jews.”

 

35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.”  36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”  40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”  42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  (NAB Luke 23:35-43)

 

All three readings at today’s Mass focus on “kingship.”  Not the kingship our world has traditionally understood, but one that comes from suffering, persecution, and death rather than a kingship of power, greed, and wealth.  History is filled with kings whose reign was characterized by selfishness, narcissism, and bloodshed.  These kings dealt with other areas and individuals, even in their own kingdom, with a greedy and sadistic brutality.

The Catholic Church ends our “liturgical year” with the celebration of the “Feast of Christ the King.”  Today’s Gospel proclaims and demonstrates a grand mystery of our faith.  In this moment of Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and crucifixion, He is revealed as our “King” and “Savior!”

Luke’s Gospel is loaded with surprising “paradigm shifts!”  A paradigm shift is much more than two coins totaling twenty cents moving around in your pocket.  A paradigm shift is a change in basic assumptions one has, such as a change in beliefs, traditions, and actions.

Jesus stirs the proverbial “pot” by proclaiming throughout His entire teaching ministry that the poor are rich, that sinners find salvation, and that the Kingdom of God is found in our midst.  But here, – – while Jesus is dying a horrible death on the cross, – – we witness probably the greatest paradigm shift of all.  We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, – – who, through faith, – – reveals to us that HE IS the King and Savior of all as Isaiah had foreseen seven to eight centuries before Jesus Christ (Isaiah 52:14 – 15; 53:2-17).  A beautiful quirk of fate is that the inscription placed above Jesus’ head on the cross, as a description of His “crime”, placed there to humiliate and mock Him and His followers, actually contains the most profoundly TRUE fact of faith!!  Instead of a crown of jewels, Jesus chooses to instead wear a crown of thorns as a symbol of His reign.

The last half of this Gospel reading, verses 39 – 43, is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Jesus’ short sentence to the penitent thief reveals Luke’s understanding, and his firm belief, that the destiny of all Christians is “to be with Jesus.” 

In a special, short moment of his life, the “penitent thief” was saved by his spontaneous belief of Jesus’ innocence, righteousness, and His special nature as Messiah.  As the Temple leaders and Roman soldiers laughed at, heckled, and taunted Jesus, a thief crucified by His side recognized Jesus as the “Messiah” and “King of the Jews”.  In doing so, this penitent “sinner” found salvation through Jesus’ life and “soon-to-be” death.  Three separate events happened nearly simultaneously in this poor criminals’ heart, body and soul: events that saved him.

First, he admonished the other sinner, on the other side of Jesus for mocking Jesus.  Second, in front of all present, he confessed his own faults, crimes, and sins.  Finally, this suffering man, (whose name has come to be known as “Dismas”) asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus would reign as King over all of us.  For Dismas, his cross was only a transition, a door, or gate into God’s glory and eternal life in paradise that very afternoon.  He had a “true” faith that began instantly to produce real supernatural effects in himself and in others present who were witnessing this event.

Jesus IS “King”; but not the kind of king we, or His Jewish brethren, expected, imagined, or thought possible.  He held no “political” office.  He did not lead an army.  He was not a dictator who demanded a suppressed liberty or blind obedience.  And, He never used fear, force, or guilt to maintain His rule. 

So, how does Jesus rule from heaven even today?  The answer is quite simple and poetic: Jesus rules with “love!  Jesus’ kingship is different from all others, not in power, but in nature and manner.  His kingship is fortified with love and righteousness.  Jesus’ love, His divine love, has conquered, restored, and inspired millions of people including me and you.  Jesus’ divine love has sustained and converted a multitude of saints and sinners!  Jesus’ love for all of us has literally changed history!  Do you plant the seed of love in others? Do you spread love to those around you as our King Jesus shows us?

His divinity was hidden from many people in His hometown, in the Temple, and possibly even among some of His “followers”.  It seems only those who had the belief of faith in the divinely human Jesus were able to see Jesus the “Messiah.”  

Many of us today still struggle to recognize Jesus as the King: the “Messiah, the Savior and Liberator of all people, and for all people.  Today’s Gospel reading invites us to recognize that Jesus Christ, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior for and of all of us.  Jesus is at once the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) and the “firstborn of all creation!” (Colossians 1:15)

I know I am the “king” of my house.  I claim to “wearing the pants” in my family.  (But my wife tells me which ones to put on!)  Seriously, most of us have never been personally exposed to true “royalty” such as a “king”.  Due to today’s media, most of us DO have some sense of what being “royalty” means.  Royalty is depicted as having control and power over the “subjects” of their kingdom.  We also know “subjects” are prone to give royalty their individual loyalty, faithfulness, and reverence.

Jesus is a “King” in a way that is dramatically different from our traditional understandings of royalty.  Christ’s rule reaches to all places, people, and times.  Jesus manifests his sovereign rule through His death on the Cross, resurrection, and ascension into glory, by which He offers salvation to all.

What does it mean to be a king?  What does it mean to be a “subject” to a king?  How did the people of His time respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  How do YOU respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  Do we have the faith that Dismas had while he died on the cross next to Jesus?  Finally, how do you recognize and honor Jesus Christ – – the KING?! (Your King?!)

Christmas is literally right around the corner.  With the celebration of the “birth” of Jesus happening in just a few weeks, why are we having a Gospel reading about the end of Jesus’ human life? (Good question, Eh?)  The answer is because today is the end of the Church Liturgical Year.  Through our King’s death on the cross, a new Advent of never ending paradise is opened for all of us.  Today is a great day to start anew, to dedicate yourself to His love and mercy, and to convert from your secular ways.  Following Jesus, our KING, entails living differently than what the rest of society expects and even encourages.  Enter His kingdom and live eternally – Let Him be your KING! 

 

  

Thanksgiving for the Blessings of the Past Year

 

“O God, the beginning and the end of all things, who is always the same, and whose years do not fail, we now, at the close of another year kneel in adoration before You, and offer You our deepest thanks for the Fatherly care with which You have watched over us during the past year, for the many times You have protected us from evils of soul and body, and for the numberless blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which You have showered upon us.  May it please You to accept the homage of our grateful hearts which we offer You in union with the infinite thanksgiving of Your divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with lives with You and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.”

(Adapted from prayer found at
http://www.yenra.com/catholic/prayers)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

   

   

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Feast of the Presentation of Mary

 

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Comment:

It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They, too, are temples of God and sanctified in order that they might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.

Quote:

“Hail, holy throne of God, divine sanctuary, house of glory, jewel most fair, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world, heaven showing forth the glory of God. Purest Virgin, worthy of all praise, sanctuary dedicated to God and raised above all human condition, virgin soil, unplowed field, flourishing vine, fountain pouring out waters, virgin bearing a child, mother without knowing man, hidden treasure of innocence, ornament of sanctity, by your most acceptable prayers, strong with the authority of motherhood, to our Lord and God, Creator of all, your Son who was born of you without a father, steer the ship of the Church and bring it to a quiet harbor” (adapted from a homily by St. Germanus on the Presentation of the Mother of God).

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

  
   

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 21 & 22 of 26:

 

21.     On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

 

22.     The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.

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