November 26, 2017
On Good Friday we proclaim the Passion according to St. John. Above the crucified Jesus is the inscription: “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” The title of “king” seems out of place identifying a man sentenced to death and wearing a crown of thorns. It is hard to believe that Jesus is a King! Yet today we celebrate “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” It is a relatively recent feast day. Pope Pius XI established “Christ the King” in 1925 in response to growing secularism and the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany and socialism in the Soviet Union. No society, no dictator can demand allegiance that belongs properly to God. The Pope, while addressing Bishops, intended the solemnity to impact the laity in order to engage them in Catholic Action as “instruments of justice.” What we profess must be apparent in the way we conduct our lives.
As we bow and show our reverence to Jesus Christ under the lofty title of King of the Universe we hear in Sacred Scripture (Ezekiel and Psalm 23) that kingship is understood as shepherding. King David is the ideal. The anointed king takes the place of God with a royal task to tend, to care and to protect his subjects. We are surprised to learn in the Gospel according to St. Matthew that the One who resides at God’s right side in glory is also mysteriously abiding in the least, lost and lowly citizens of the realm. When Jesus comes in glory as the Son of Man and nations are assembled before “the King” our place will be determined by whether or not we extended compassion to the “hidden king” disguised in the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned subjects of the kingdom. Salvation will be assured or lost by spiritual and corporal works of mercy show to the least of our brothers and sisters.
Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is a special moment when we recognize Christ in the consecrated host. A special grace is also needed to see Jesus in the poor and suffering of the world. As our eyes turn away from gazing on Jesus crucified so we turn away from seeing and touching Jesus in the most vulnerable and broken who are “the host” of the hidden king. We have an opportunity again at the close of and beginning of the liturgical year to brighten Christmas for persons/families in need through Stars of Bethlehem and Boxes of Joy. Your gift is a gesture of kindness.
I have a twenty pound note (British Sterling) from my last trip to London. Queen Elizabeth, her portrait, is imprinted on one side. She is the reigning monarch. It is a custom here, in our country, to have currency engraved with the figure of a notable man or in the case of a “silver” dollar -- Susan B. Anthony. For most Americans and the English this custom is not off... READ MORE
I am not a “birdwatcher” but I do slow down at times to observe and listen to the birds. I have noticed a gathering of sparrows in the maple tree, evergreens and bushes next to Langley Hall. It is a bird sanctuary. The birds stop chirping when I quietly walk by as if I am stalking them. Birdwatchers note a scout sparrow arrives first, then more sparrows, finches and do... READ MORE
Our first reading is from the prophet Isaiah. It is ballad or song. Listening to the original Hebrew lyrics we can detect the rhyme and word association. It moves from joy to sadness like a Country Western song. The harvest is near with joyful anticipation of plentiful grapes for wine. Isaiah sings of the owner of the vineyard as his friend who has cleared the fertile hill... READ MORE
This past week we heard a scientific word: “optics” (the study of light and vision) used in a political context. President Trump said he didn’t like the “optics” of cabinet members using costly charter jets to travel. Again, an administration official calls the federal response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico a “good news story” when we are seeing a... READ MORE
“God is always present, but not always apparent.” St. Paul writes to the Church at Philippi: “Christ will be magnified in my body.” Paul is being pulled. He longs to be with Christ departing this life but for the sake of the Philippians (and other churches he loves) Paul is content to continue serving and glorifying God in the present moment of his imprisonment. Fo... READ MORE