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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

CHRIST THE KING (B) NOVEMBER 25, 2018

Daniel 7: 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1: 5-8; John 18: 33b-37

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

WELCOME to the latest email recipients of "First Impressions," the parishioners of St. Joseph of the Holy Family Parish in Harlem, New York City.

 

On our webpage we have posted a preacher’s reflection on Advent. Go to: http://www.preacherexchange.com/index.htm and click on the tab on the lower left, "Preaching Essay."



 

 

CHRIST

the KING

-2018-

The Nazis boasted a 1000 year reign. The British boasted that the sun never set on the British Empire. Sobering thoughts that evoke the impermanence of worldly powers, especially for those of us living in "the most powerful country in the world". We need to remind ourselves that the rule that seems permanent, really isn’t. We are asked today: where do we put our allegiance? What is our vision for the community of peoples, how will we live together and whose rule will enable us to live out our vision? If our view is that of the reign of Christ, the peaceful and equitable living together, of diverse peoples eschewing violent means and caring for those more vulnerable in our midst – we really can celebrate the feast of Christ the King. For under his rule, guided by his own example of self giving and direction, a new reign is in our midst. Those who claim him as the one who rules their minds and hears profess citizenship in his realm. W not only hold this view but a citizens of this reign, we are dedicating our lives to seeing it come to pass by how we live our lives.

 

The long history of nations and the passing of rule from one power to another, is a history of warfare, bloodshed, innocence suffering and the violent overthrowing of previous rulers. But Jesus proclaims his reign through his words and deeds. The poor heard the offer of good news, the sick the offer of healing--none would be manipulated by him, all would come out better in his realm. We cannot just sit around and wait for the finalization of his reign when he comes again. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and enjoy the vast bounty of fruits from our fields, we know that even in our cities their is malnutrition, while starvation reign, through much of the world. If we are truly citizens of Jesus’ reign, we need to act in the name of our ruler who addressed the hungers and hurts of the masses of needy people. The rule of this king is not just a rule over our individual spirits, but is a rule meant to be felt by all peoples--described in our first reading as "nations and peoples of every language".

 

Does our life show the commitment we profess today to Christ as our King? As the saying goes, "If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?" If we sense that there is a gap between the ideals we profess and the reality we live, then today is a good day to recommit ourselves to Christ and his ways. We can pray today that we hear afresh his message, take it to heart and let his reign form our lives.

 

The feast of "Christ the King" concludes our liturgical year. The day wraps up what we have been professing in word and ritual throughout these gatherings. We are dedicated to the Lord, and today we say "yes" to citizenship in his realm and profess our common belief: Christ is King. That should be our pray as we pray the Lord’s Prayer together just before Communion. We pray, "Thy kingdom come", i.e., we pray that our lives together will better reflect what Jesus has in mind for us as a community of God’s people.

 

The first reading: The Israelite community did not fare well under its own rulers nor the rulers of its occupiers. Their human rulers often failed them---kings were power hungry, ruled over dishonest courts and were influenced by wealthy land owners who defrauded the poor. (Who says the bible isn’t a modern book!) Yet this reading is set in a court scene--but it is a different kind of court. A divine agent of God comes from the clouds and receives rule over every nation. Israel saw this figure as representative of itself and envisioned a day when Israel would rule over all nations.

 

Daniel was written in the 2nd. century, during the cruel reign of the Greek empire. This section is from a series of four visions depicting the defeat of Israel’s enemies. At this moment of the vision the "Son of Man" comes on the clouds. The beasts in this section of Daniel come from the world of evil, but this one comes from the heavens. Evil has ruled over the people for a limited period of time, but note the hope expressed here, for this one from God will rule over all peoples, for all times. Jesus will use this image of the "Son of Man" to describe himself. However, to the notion of a triumphant ruler, Jesus will unite the seeming contradiction of his suffering and death. If Jesus receives the "dominion, glory., and kingship" mentioned in this reading, it will be at a consequence of his first accepting servanthood and even death. This is what makes Jesus’ rule so unique. Earthly rulers hold sway over others only during their lifetime and while they have the power to control. Jesus’ rule is the contrary, it is in his dying that his rule begins, that he begins to hold sway over us. He doesn’t rule us by force of arms, but we surrender to his dominion by the force of his love for us. He has walked an arduous path for us and our love and admiration for his willingness to suffer for us persuade us to follow him and proclaim his rule over our lives this day.

 

In the first reading, we have a continuation of the apocalyptical literature we saw last week. It is a unique form of literature, one characterized by extreme images and strange creatures. The intention is to address a suffering people and help them look beyond the present moment of grief to a longed-for-time of peace. During persecutions people need a vision of the future to get them through. Remember the story of Victor Frankl who lost his family in the Holocaust and was himself in Auschwitz? He looked into himself and saw his worth and found meaning to his life despite his circumstances. With this inner strength and vision he survived when many around him perished. Remember too the slaves in our own country who, in the midst of their slavery, sang hymns of hope, about someday being able to "fly away".

 

In the Gospel the conversation between Pilate and Jesus enables the author to proclaim quite clearly that Jesus was a king with a rule that had its source in divine authority. The issue raised is Pilate’s concern whether Jesus is a king and therefore might stir up a rebellion against Rome. As Rome’s representative and ruler over Judea, Pilate could not risk a political disturbance under his rule. It’s clear from the conversation that Jesus’ rule is non-political, that he favors no political group Jesus’ rule is not over earthly territory and is not part of any human ambition. He will not rule over us by coercion, but by interior acknowledgment that he is our ruler. His realm is not marked by territorial signs, border guards or fences.

 

We Americans claim we feel uncomfortable with this notion of kingship. After all, we won our independence by resisting the rule of a tyrant king, we threw him over and became free. Many of our ancestors came to this country to get away from whims of kings and tyrants and the heel of oppressive force. The preacher calls us to remember that we are citizens of another realm, we live under a different rule and a different ruler. In following Christ, we leave behind any other power that has controlled us to follow the one who sets us really free with a freedom no political realm can grant.

 

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112518.cfm

 

QUOTABLE

 

Pilate seems to miss the import of Jesus’ remarks; he heard the word "kingdom" and for him this is a political entity; and so he presses for a confession (37). Jesus will not categorically refuse to be known as a king..., but he indicates that he prefers to describe his role in terms of testifying to the truth. John has not portrayed Jesus as a preacher of the kingdom but as the unique revealer who alone can speak and show the truth about God. Jesus has no real subjects as would be true if his kingdom were like other kingdoms; rather he has followers who hear his voice as truth. Only those who belong to the truth can understand in what sense Jesus has a kingdom and is a king. The real reason that Jesus has been handed over to Pilate is precisely because he has borne witness to the truth: "The world...hates me because of the evidence I bring against it" (v.ii 7).

 

---- Raymond E. Brown, SS. THE ANCHOR BIBLE; THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN (XIII-XXI),

page 869 .

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

 

"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom. . ."

Revelation 1: 5-6

 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we open our hearts, so that he makes his kingdom within us; and we worship him by trying to conform our lives in imitation of him. The kingdom is not a geographical location but is found in the loving actions of Jesus’ believers. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Collection this weekend is one of our chances to help carry out the mission of Jesus Christ "... to bring good news to the poor .. release to captives ... sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free" (Luke 4:18).

 

CCHD is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops that acts on the central belief that those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities by offering a hand up, not a hand out.

 

CCHD is an essential part of the Church in the United States' social mission, and provides the Catholic faithful with concrete opportunities to live out the love of God and neighbor in ways that express our baptismal call and continuing Eucharistic transformation. Without the generous financial support of U.S. Catholics, CCHD would not be possible.

 

This program also has a complementary mission of educating on poverty and its causes. This strategy of education for justice and helping people who are poor speak and act for themselves reflects the mandate of the Scriptures and the principles of Catholic social teaching. To learn more and see videos regarding poverty and the work of CCHD, go to: https://povertyusa.org/

Think about the over 40 million Americans that live in poverty (including 2.5 million children that experience homelessness on average in a year). Encounter, learn, act.

 

O Creator,

Through your Church, you call us to listen, to learn, to reflect and to act.

Give us a deep sense of our place in this web of Creation.

Give us the wisdom of mind and generosity of heart to seek your will in the world today.

Inspire us to respond to the call to live in solidarity with the impoverished, so that

all children of God might live in dignity and peace.

Amen.

 

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral,

Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

 

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

 

From today’s Gospel reading:

 

Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?"...

Jesus answered,

"My kingdom does not belong to this world."

 

Reflection:

 

Jesus’ kingdom, his world, is with us now. We have, through our baptism and the gift of the Spirit, been given the vision to see the presence of the kingdom and its life-giving possibilities. It is a world of community, equality, respect and dialogue. In the kingdom, under Jesus’ rule, each person’s gifts are recognized. The poor and neglected are empowered and no one is left out. Justice is given to each, regardless of their political influence, race, gender or economic status.

 

So we ask ourselves:

  • Who or what set of values rule my life and guide my daily decisions?

  • What can I do to respond more fully to Jesus’ rule in my life

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

 

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

 

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

 

Please write to:

  • Paul D. Cummings #0523493 (On death row since 9/8/04)

  • Alexander C. Polke #0801680 (2/7/05)

  • Christopher Goss #0150949 (2/8/05)

----Central Prison 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh 27699-4285

 

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

 

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:  http://www.pfadp.org/

 

DONATIONS

 

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

 

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

 

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C

  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

 

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

 

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

 

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.org - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.

 


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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