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.”