Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ the King 2013 - Year C

We really don’t know that much about him.
We know that he lived during the time of Jesus.
Some say that he was a zealot trying to overthrow the Roman occupiers,
others say that he was a crook,
others say that he was a murderer.

Whatever he was we know that he was guilty and that whatever his crime was it the Romans felt that he merited death.

History has given him many names the most common is the “good thief” but others have called him St. Didimus. We know he is a Saint because from the cross Jesus promised him salvation.

Yes he was guilty as charged and from his place of torture he admitted it.

But deep within his heart was a tiny seed of repentance and faith.

We don’t know how it was planted or nurtured but it was there,
and this man’s faith gave him the capacity to to recognized Jesus as the Messiah as a King with a Kingdom, admit his own guilt,  and ask for mercy.

“Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
With those simple words, with that tiny moment of contrition the Good thief was given the promise of salvation.”

No matter what his crimes were Jesus knew that the the good thief recognized that Jesus was God and admitted his guilt and asked forgiveness.

Jesus’ promise was both simple and profound “This day you will be with me in paradise”

God’s mercy and God’s love for each and everyone whether we are guilty or innocent is amazing.

Quite frankly it is often beyond our comprehension.

Once when I was at a local nursing home. A woman said to me,
“I’ve lived a horrible life I’ve made too many mistakes to count.
I’ve hurt so many of the people I love and I have a terminal illness.The Doctor says I am going to die in a couple of months. What should I do, what can I do?”

I told her to ask for the sacrament of the sick and all of her sins would be forgiven.
She looked me right in the eye and said is God that reckless with his mercy ?

She died two weeks later completely reconciled with God.

The story of the Good thief proves that God is indeed reckless with his mercy.
God is reckless with his mercy and God is reckless with his love

The Feast of Christ the King is relatively new to the Church it was started in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

In 1970  the Anglicans, Lutherans, and many other Protestants as well as by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. All accepted it as a feast

Pius the XI instituted the feast Christ the King because he believed the world was becoming more and more secular and more and more violent and more and more materialistic.

He saw the world drifting from God.

He felt that many were simply forgetting or even worse ignoring God’s place in their lives and refusing to accept that God made us and we belong to him.

Pious the XI believed that the first world war, the rise of communism and the exaggerated materialism of the West all were conspiring  to squeeze God from our lives and with the Feast of Christ the King he sought to remind the world who we are and Who God is.

Let’s ask ourselves

  • To we recognized God’s primary place in our lives, or do we think that we are the masters of our own destiny?
  • To we remember that every moment of our lives is a gift from God, or do we think that somehow we are entitled to the gift of life?
  • Do we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and our King, are we willing to serve Him and follow his plan?

The Feast of Christ the King is important because every year it places all of these questions before our heart and before our mind.

At the last possible moment the good thief recognized God’s rightful place in his life.

Do we ?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C

capitalbuildingYou know when I lived in Washington people would often come to visit and one of the first things we would do is get on the Metro or the Subway and go to see the sites.

Everyone wanted to see the Capitol Building, the White House, all of the monuments, and the war memorials.

Quite frequently our visitors would remark how beautiful Washington was and what a great country we have.

They were almost always taken in by the grandeur of the Lincoln Memorial or the beautiful reflection of the Jefferson Memorial on the tidal basin on a calm crisp night.

That’s pretty much what was happening in today’s Gospel.

Some of the Jew were looking at the Temple the center of Judaism and complimenting themselves on how beautiful it was and how great their nation was.

During the time of Jesus, life was ok in Israel, while not prosperous, it was at the center of trading routes and people were able to make ends meet.

Its rulers accommodated the Romans who occupied their country and the ruling class became quite rich from their accommodation.

The normal people were being pulled  between their rulers and religious leaders who were comfortable with the status quo and the Zealots who wanted the Romans driven out by armed insurrection.

Both sides viewed their position as God’s will.

In the end the Zealots would win over the country and in 40 short years after Jesus death they would start an insurrection or war with the Romans that would lead to disaster.

One historian states over a million Jews were killed by the Romans and  the beautiful Temple was be destroyed.

The Jewish people who remained were driven from their land and spread out all over the world.

Jesus knew what was coming

He knew that Jerusalem was headed for destruction.

He knew that the faith of his early Jewish followers would be shaken when it happened.

He knew that they would face persecution.

He knew all these things, and he warned both the people of his time and he warns us that a life of faith is not always going to be easy to live.

No one who has ever read the Gospel can say that Jesus didn’t warn us about the cost of discipleship.

There are so many similarities between our current situation and that of the Israel during the time of Jesus.

Like Israel during the time of Jesus, our country is indeed becoming more and more polarized.

We are polarized on key fundamental issues like the economy and health care, marriage and immigration the list goes on and on.

We are becoming so polarized in fact that sometimes it almost seems that our government has stopped functioning. We all remember the shutdown.

During the time of Jesus the simple people were caught in the middle of the two main factions, the zealots and the accommodators and were persecuted by both.
Right now so many of us feel like we are caught in the middle differing world views.

With the fall of Jerusalem the Jewish people and the followers of Jesus suffered religious persecution.

Right now  I believe that our religious beliefs and our religious freedom are slowly being pushed aside by a culture which is growing more and more secular and has less and less room for God.

Try and say Merry Christmas in public and see the reaction.

Fr. Raymond lamented that he went to a card store and could not find one religious Christmas Card.

You know I have this little trick when I go into any store that sells computers. I pull up our parish website and walk away in the hope that someone will see. it

Once I went to a computer store and tried to pull up our parish website on I could not.

When I questioned one of the associates he said that they block all religious sites like they block pornography because they don't’ want to offend anyone.

Personally I believe that in the future it will be more difficult for our children to practice their faith.

I also believe that religious indifference or even persecution will grow more and more prevalent.

In the light of all these things today’s Gospel reminds us to not waiver in our commitment to God and not to lose hope or faith.

We all know how the story ends, good wins and evil loses.

Let us remain steadfast in our beliefs and true to our faith not matter what the cost.

For Jesus warned us about all of these things before they happened and challenged us not to let them shake our faith.

Let us always be true to God’s word

Let us love the world even when it persecutes or marginalizes us.

Let us never forget the poor and open hearts and our resources to those in need.

For Jesus said “by your perseverance you will secure your lives."