Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (C)
Fr. Alan Gilmore, OCSO
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today is the 34th Sunday in Ordinary time. It is also the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. The end of the year points toward the end of time when ALL creation will be culminated in Christ, when his kingdom comes, when God’s will is done.
With the following words, in 1925, Pope Pius XI introduced the beautiful “Solemnity of Christ the King “ to the Catholic world.: (Quote):
“People are taught the truths of the faith and brought to appreciate them more effectively by the annual celebration of the sacred mysteries – than by official pronouncements of the Church….pronouncements speak once; feasts (Solemnities) speak every year. The Church’s teaching impresses the mind primarily, while her feasts influence both mind and heart, affecting the whole of the person.”
The Pope did this also to guard against the extremes of laicism of the time and the clericalism of previous generations. With these words and for this reason he established this great Solemnity, now know as -The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
As today’s celebration points out – Christ is Master, Shepherd, King and Lord of all. Our selfishness, our lack of vision, fails entirely to destroy or distort the truth of the Christ. He remains the beginning and end of existence. He is our universal King! Paul’s words to the Colossians today – sums up beautifully the “Christic” nature of the Son of God, the Son of David, ‘explaining’ even gravity’ – ( as – “In him all things hold together”.)
This celebration provides us with what is perhaps the most multi-faceted theme in all of salvation history: “Kingship”& “Messiah”. This is witnessed to by the richness of the texts for this Liturgy. The tendency of most of us would be to treat the coming of Christ’s Kingship in a highly dramatic way. But that is not God’s way! Instead, the King of Kings comes to us very simply, even on the foal of an ass. Some throne he had!: a cross. Some crown: of thorns; Some subjects: all sinners. Today he comes to us again, Jesus our Lord and God, our King; He is delivered into our hands. We may receive him with our open hands…but most of all – and this is what he wants from us above all else – he wants us to open our heart to him! He wants to be the King and Center of our heart! He wants to enter the deepest depths of our heart. He is the only one who can enter that ‘holy of holies’ as it were, where he makes us mutually present with him and to one another!
Listen to how Jesus describes his coming in the Gospels: “I will come to you. In that day you will know that I am in my Father – and you in me – and I in you.” “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” “Because I live, you will live also.” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” All throughout, this is a personal relationship! He comes to give us his Spirit – that we may be able to love one another- as he has loved us. That is the Kingdom we are called to, as the members of his Body, the Church. This is the Kingdom we are called to participate in now; This is ‘not yet’ heaven, but it is the beginning!
The response we are making to that Kingdom? We are called to be ready and willing to confess him to follow him, to do what he commands – just as he responded to his Father in Gethsemani. “Not my will, but thine be done”. “If you know these things, blessed shall you be – if you do them.” This is what our Pope Francis keeps talking about!
To love the King – is to love his kingdom. – that is – all our Brothers and Sisters – all for whom he has made the great confession, laying down his life for all of us. It is only in doing this, in demonstrating this love, that we show ourselves to be sons and daughters, members of the Kingdom of Christ.
Only the Lord, the King of our Heart, can teach us and help us to love as he loves. Through his Spirit, his Word, and His Eucharist, he empowers us, gives us the initiative and courage to love one another effectively and selflessly. To do this constantly – involves a death, a death to self! Shortly before his own death Jesus reminded us of this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone…..he who loves his life, loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me.” The Lord comes to us personally and corporately. He gives us full power, to love, as pleni-potentiaries”, as it were! He has plans and gifts for each one of us! “Go into the whole world!”
On this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, let’s pray – that our hearts may be touched, and the quality of our allegiance to Christ our King be purified and strengthened!; that we may always prefer absolutely nothing to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – in whom everything continues in being. May our lives reflect the gratitude we owe Him, without whom we, no thing, no Universe could exist. May we confess and glorify his name now and for all eternity Come Lord Jesus! (2 Sam. 5:1-3, Col. l: 12-20, Lk. 23: 35-43)
by Sr. Maureen McCormack – Sisters of Loretto
I chose to give the homily on this day because it is my baptismal feast. My parents wanted to have me baptized on this day because the Feast of Christ the King was a rather new feast in the Church. They wanted me to be baptized on a special day, not just a day or so after I was born, so that I would remember. The feast was celebrated in October in those days. When the Church leaders decided to move it to November, I remember saying: “O no, they can’t do that. That’s my baptismal feast. I was born in October.” Nonetheless, I am happy to celebrate each year the occasion of my baptism, the day I was brought into the Church.
I want to reflect for a moment on what is modeled for us as we enter into membership in the Church. We are invited to imitate Christ’s kindness, never saying an unkind word about anyone. We are invited to follow the way he lived his life, his openness to others- men, women, and especially the children. We are so fortunate to have Christ’s beautiful example of how to live our lives.
So today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. There was such joy among the people as Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem. They shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of our God.” (Luke 19:38)
I was in the midst of preparing this homily when there was a knock at my door. It was Barbara Schulte bringing me communion. Someone does this on days I am unable to get to Mass. The moment was poignant, as though Barbara was saying to me, instead of “Body of Christ,” “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of our God.” I was barely able to get back to preparing these remarks, after that.
After all of this joy and celebration by the people as Jesus entered into Jerusalem, we learn from the gospel that much later things had taken a terrible turn for the worst. Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death. What? Where were we? We heard shouting: “Crucify him” “We have no king, but Caesar.” Did we join in the shouting and jeering? “If you are the king of Jews, come down from the cross. Save yourself.”
Where do we stand? There was a different voice that day from one of the criminals crucified with Jesus. He rebuked the other criminal who asked Jesus to save them. With these words: “Have you no fear of God? We have been condemned justly. This man has done nothing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus and said: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” Jesus replies: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
I ask again. Where do we stand as all these events unfold? How do we hope we would have the courage to be, to align ourselves in difficult or challenging circumstances? There is much to ponder, to think about.
One of the ways I hope I would be is reflected in the quote about The Essence of Compassion which Alice Mattingly has framed in the physical therapy room: “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and wrong, because sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”
Dear brothers and sisters – We live in perilous times. Nations are turning against each other. Old alliances are falling apart, new ways of fighting wars threaten fragile peace. Children are killed in their schools by other children. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Minorities are demonised as threats, are profiled and used as scapegoats. Immanent environmental disaster which threatens all life on the planet is recognized by everyone except those with the power to stop it. These are perilous times. Perhaps this is what the end times look like. In the 1960’s, everyone was worried that we would blow ourselves up, but now it looks like we will just slowly suffocate ourselves. T.S. Eliot may have been right – “This is the way the world ends / not with a bang but a whimper.”
Then again, at least some people in every generation since Christ have been sure that they were the ones living in the end times. This era looks dire, but what about the 14 th century when war and the black plague wiped out about half the population of Europe? And we don’t need to go back that far – the first half of the 20 th century saw war on a scale unimaginable before then. Dictators directed the deaths of millions of their own citizens. The Spanish flu of 1918 carried off about 50 million worldwide. Throughout human history, when have there not been wars and insurrections? When have there not been plenty of “earthquakes, famines, and plagues?” And every time a comet appears, some sect or other claims that here are “mighty signs… from the sky.” Many other eras have looked like the end of the world.
As Christians, we believe that the end of the world as we know it will coincide with the second coming of Jesus Christ. The prophecies about this time, including Jesus’ own, have the good and the evil separated out, the sheep from the goats, with the evil going to eternal punishment, and the good joining Christ in heaven. Most folks who think that the end time is approaching likely put themselves into the “good” category, among those who will be saved. Malachi the prophet belongs to this type. He warns us that the day of the Lord is coming, with recompense for those who fear God’s name, but with punishment for evildoers. “The day is coming,” he says, “blazing like an oven.” For evildoers, this day will feel like excruciating heat, burning them up, but for the righteous, it will feel like the sun’s “healing rays.” Both are fire, but are felt differently depending on the virtue of the recipient. It is clear that Malachi expected this day of the Lord to be immanent, to come within the lifetime of those listening to his words. He firmly believes that he is living in the last days. We, however, have a different perspective on his prophecy. Malachi is placed last by Christians in the order of the books of the Old Testament because his prophecies are taken to refer to the coming of Christ, and beyond that, to Christ’s second coming. The book of Malachi, then, immediately precedes Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. Naturally, therefore, we read Malachi as Advent approaches.
Advent is about preparing for the coming of Jesus into the world, both his first coming as a baby, the son of Mary, and his second coming at the end of all time. It’s understandable that Christians would long, in a way, for the end of the world. For us it means the beginning of the reign of God, the institution of a new heaven and a new earth, in which death will be no more, in which God will wipe away the tear from every eye. But Jesus tells us that we should not try to anticipate when this time will come. By the time the Gospel of Luke was finished, his prediction about the temple being razed to the ground had already come true. But that this was not a sign of the end of the world, Jesus warns, “See that you not be deceived,” since there is always someone who will tell us that the end times are upon us. Instead, he tells us that before that time comes, there will be suffering. This is not surprising. All of us have suffered loss and tragedy in our lives. We may have escaped persecution as Christians, though there are many in the world today who do suffer persecution for their religious beliefs, but we can’t escape the death of loved ones, personal injury or illness, broken-heartedness, or the many disappointments, great and small, that life brings. He tells us not to focus on the end times, but on the trials we will face before then.
I once saw a cartoon which had one of those raggedy prophets, with a beard, in a ragged robe and carrying a sign. These signs usually say something like, “The End is Near!” But in this case it said, “It just goes on and on and on.”
Paul gives us some sound advice on what is important in the time between Jesus’ first and second coming. He advises the Thessalonians to “work quietly and to eat their own food.” This is a far cry from beating one’s breast, or adopting some extreme behaviour in anticipation of the Second Coming. It is particularly good advice for us here at Gethsemani at this time of year. Advent for us is a time of anticipation of Christ’s coming into the world, and a time of reflection on Christ’s next appearance, encouraged by our daily liturgy, but it is also our shipping season, when we are frantically but quietly busy earning our own bread, and earning the right to eat it. Jesus tells us that he will certainly come again, that the day of the Lord is real, but he also tells us not to spend our time fretting about it or predicting it. He tells us that we should focus instead on the present. The virtue he recommends is not prophecy but perseverance. “By your perseverance you will secure your lives,” he tells us. The end times will come, that is certain, but it is extremely unlikely, given the track record, that it will happen within our lifetimes. More than likely we will simply die like every single person before us. But when we die, we will encounter Christ in some way, not perhaps in the full way which will happen in the last days, but in some way. And we will be judged for the way we have spent our lives, the gift of life which God has given us.
This should be our constant preoccupation, to spend our lives well, in service to our brothers and sisters, like St. Paul, in faithfulness and perseverance in the path God has laid out for us, whether that path leads to family or career or into the monastery. And of course we should do all we can to alleviate the evils of our time. We wait in hope for the day of the Lord, but we live in love in the present moment. This is the best preparation we can make for the end times, whether they come in the form of Jesus’ blazing appearance from heaven or in the form of our own small deaths, a life given to God through love of our very real and very present brothers and sisters.
Homily by Fr Carlos on the anniversary of the Dedication of our Church, Nov. 15th.
In the Old Testament whenever there is a God-event, its leader would erect a pillar of stone in order to commemmorate the power, magnficencen and the care that God showed to them. Like Joshua who told the leaders of the 12 to pick up stones from the Jordan as they cross on their way to conquer the nations or Jacob who set up a pillar where he wrestled with God. Moses also instructed the people Israel “to set up large stones and covered them with lime to write all the words of the law.” It is the presence of God, with his power and glory, that hallowed the place and His great providence for Israel.
It was the beginning of , so to speak, locating the presence of an ubiquitous God.. Later on this God came down from the mountain and resided with them in tent to accompany them in their conquest of the land filled with milk and honey. And when it was done David built a temple because he thought that God deserves more than to live in a tent and that David lived in a palace. Gradually we see that the transcendent God who is everywhere and all powerful condescends to live among his people and made Himself accessible to His people. They worhsipped him not in any place in the desert but He can be found and addressed to in the temple. It is not so that from now on human beings can confine God but God chose to dwell in His house for human beings tend to forget easily. And so just like of old God in his goodness chose Gethsemani to be his temple , home and church where people may meet him in loving adoration and prayers. Once more He made himself accessible.
We are commemmorating the dedication of this church of Gethsemani humbly asking God to remain with us for we are his adopted children through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a proper home for his children with God as Father. There is a union in spirit unlike the temple where only designated priest
Can enter the holy of holies. In our church the holiness of God is shared among those who love and revere him. It is then a holy assembly and an assembly needs a holy temple to house them. This Church then is a reminder of what God has done for monks of Gethsemani. How they started humbly and in true poverty, trusting in the Lord, came here with very little financial source. The generosity of God came to them through the many people who helped them establish this monastery. The founding monks were like the Israel, exiles from the revolutionary storms that ravaged their country, France. They too were persecuted like Israel. So this church is the sign of God’s power and glory.
This building therefor is the locus of God’s presence, the place of the meeting of those who would speak with God, in knowledge and love of community united precisely by the love of God for them who brought them here. It is, as it were, a sacrament – an outward and visible sign of that gracious indwelling presence. God now resides in the building and more so in the temple of the hearts of those who worship him in love. Day by the day monks persevere in prayer, hallowing the hours of their days, giving thanks to the wonderful work of God – the redemption of the whole humankind. That is the monks concern to pray for the redemtpion of the world and they are joined who come here to pray with them. This feast is proper to the monks here at Gethsemani, for as St. Bernard said, if we do not keep it, if we do no celebrate it it will not be kept at all. Because the monks prefer nothing to God, they are made holy and therefore this house is blessed for their sanctified bodies in whom God dwells. This church is to make sure that holiness resides here. God is truly present here, all the more so, when everyday the Eucharist is celebrated and God is truly present among us. In this we did not make ourselves holy by our efforts but it is God’s presence that sanctifies us all. Let us pray that Gethsemani may always truly remain the house of God. A house of peace, silence and loving communication with God who is omnipresent but deigned to be immanent is us.
This morning our postulant Danny received the novice habit and this is the talk Fr Elias gave after Fr. Michael read from the RB chapter 58:1-8
ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.
Sunday Chapter, November 17, 2019
Br. Godric Begins his Novitiate
Text: RB 58.1-8:
“…Let him be shown all the hard and rugged things through which we pass on to God.”
This last statement is the key to understanding the whole of the process of entrance and formation. First of all, we must be sure to hear it correctly: it does not say that we go to God despite hard and bitter things or that we go to God by merely putting up with unpleasant experiences; it says that we go to God precisely through such things. It might be considered a paraphrase of Jesus’ word in the gospel: “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life” (Mt 7:14).
Formation is not about conveying some sort of secret or hidden wisdom to newcomers. It has more to do with reminding brothers of the Christian way. We come to the monastery to live out the gospel, which is only possible if we are willing to go through the narrow gate.
Does the novice truly seek God?, Benedict asks. The answer to this question is not something to be gleaned from conversation about motivations and convictions. The answer is to be observed in practice. Are there visible signs that this brother knows what the narrow gate is and that he consistently chooses it over easier or more attractive possibilities?
The criteria Benedict mentions are both wide-ranging and specific: eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience, and for trials. The Work of God, specifically means the liturgy in church, but zeal for it means much more than just showing up on time. Since the Work of God itself is based on the conviction that God is present everywhere, the signs to look for here are whether the brother’s life is shaped by prayer. As the Rule teaches, to place nothing before the Work of God is an outward expression of the more important inner choice to place nothing before Christ. In a way, the narrow gate, in the monastic context, is the totality of the community’s customs. Seen as a whole, they are hard work and a bitter pill, but, seen up close, they are small, manageable practices to be chosen over and over again day after day and year after year.
If Benedict mentions obedience here, it is because this way of life constantly challenges the will. How important is what I want, and how powerful is the force of my self-will? The surest practices here are to allow the bell to determine one’s next move and to be willing to accept doing things someone else’s way.
The third criterion, eagerness for opprobria—or ‘trials’ as translated here—needs close attention. It is easy to get a distorted view of these trials as invented or as unnecessarily imposed hardships or, worse yet, as a sort of masochism on the part of the novice. Aquinata Böckmann’s translation of the term is probably the most helpful. She calls it eagerness for ‘simple services’. The focus is on the commonness of the tasks. A novice who is eager for opprobria is someone who has discovered the importance of humility and who willingly, even eagerly, engages in whatever promotes or safeguards humility. It his way of reminding himself of Jesus’ word: “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life.”