Enter the
realm.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.

All of our readings and Gospel today preach one essential lesson about our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ: He is King, Lord, and Ruler. He owns all dominion and glory. He is to be served by all, and will be lamented by those who missed the opportunity to do what we do today.

I have been in many church buildings in my life. Cathedrals, Basilicas, large imposing structures build through the hard work and sacrificial pennies of immigrant ancestors, small and humble wooden structures. No matter what kind or type, even in the most modern, blank wall, social realism inspired church buildings, or older buildings that have been wreck-o-vated, you can always find one point, one corner at least, that glorifies God and His Son Jesus. Those buildings while human built monuments, praise the only King, the only government that matters. They call us into His realm.

Those places, in their simplicity, or in their grandeur, call to us; they draw our eyes and hearts to Jesus and focus us on His realm, all the varied and wonderful aspects of Jesus as our King.

More than just the buildings, the gathering of the elect, that’s you and me, is what puts it over the top. We are here to praise, magnify, and petition. We kneel and adore. We offer and we trust. We sign and call out with joyful noise to our King. Our human action, through His grace, draws us closer into His Kingdom, his realm, and sets forth an eternal sign and action through which we meet Jesus.

Lord, how good it is for us to be Yours, to worship You, to be drawn into Your realm.

God’s eternal love, Jesus’ setting aside of heavenly glory to save us, is now owned by us. Jesus came not just to save, not just to teach, not just to open heaven to us, but all-in-all to leave us a gift. Put together, all those things are what He most intended, the things that allow us to change, to be different, to be His ministers and heirs to the Kingdom. As St. John saw, He brought us into a kingdom, and made us priests for his God and Father. Our call is to be His, accept His gift, and enter the realm of the King.

Radical
revolution.

“And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

Belonging to a Church, really belonging, being a member and letting people know that one is a part of that church community is a very radical statement. Believe it or not, that makes us revolutionaries. Why so? Because it involves doing, teaching, proclaiming, and acknowledging revolutionary things.

In part, our revolution is a doing revolution. It means carrying out the tasks our Master, Jesus gave us. It is indeed feeding, welcoming, clothing, caring for, and visiting our brothers and sisters in need. That even more so today. Do those things. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Our world certainly places a value on being generous and doing good things, but falsely claims that such works are some kind of natural instinct. Where did it come from? Who knows? People just do good, because, well they do good. They may even attribute the doing of good things to political leadership.

In part, our revolution is a teaching revolution. In rejecting such notions, we call the world to understand the source of all the good we have. Our revolution is about having a full, informed, and factual knowledge of what God has done for us. The good we do, the structures of civil society had a source, and it wasn’t people’s natural goodness. The rules of a good and generous life, the call to self-sacrifice came from the example, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is the source and the fulfillment of all good. Without His life, humanity would devolve, perhaps not into complete anarchy, but into a disorder that brings us to the disaster of everlasting death. Teach that truth. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.

In part, our revolution is a proclaiming revolution. The world has its stories of the time. The world urges us to talk about certain things and to shut up about others. We must like those things the world and its talking heads approve of and keep the God stuff to ourselves. The world would say, faith is fine in the walls of your home and the walls of your church – but not in public spaces or ‘polite conversation.’ The teaching of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church to this day are anachronistic (outdated and obsolete). Yet we know that the teachings of Jesus are the only sure way to everlasting life. The guidance and laws of the Church are the living path to complete life. Proclaim the reality of God and the life of His Church in every place and time without fear. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.

Finally, and most completely, our revolution is about the Kingdom of God and Jesus as our only Lord and King. That is the most radical thing ever! It means that nothing else takes precedence, nothing else is important. The Kingdom is a sole goal and all we do, teach, and proclaim is about building the kingdom and getting to the kingdom. No other leader, no political system, no thing, no person can be our king but Jesus. To be counted among the sheep, to make it, is to seek first the kingdom of God.

Remember
me.

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for their time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for winning, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for long service or high achievements and good performance, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award, yet receives such a gift anyway, it is a good picture of the way God’s kingdom is designed. His is a kingdom in which we receive the a full inheritance to which we were never entitled but has been won and gifted to us.

The generosity of Jesus’ kingdom is on full display in the encounter between the two robbers and Jesus. Each sentenced to death; one’s heart remains stone cold. The other’s heart is opened. The King of heaven and earth offering His life for the redemption of the world is both taunted and adored. In this sacred moment God reveals His offer to the whole world and how that offer is for all as well as for each of us individually.

The two criminals were equally near to Christ. Both of them saw and heard all that happened those hours that Jesus hung on the cross. One died in his sins, he died as he had lived, without repentance. The other repented and believed in Jesus. He saw the promise of His kingdom, called on Him for mercy, and went to Paradise.

It is interesting that Jesus responded directly to the thief that called out for mercy – Yes, I will remember you. You will be with Me in My kingdom this day. Jesus responds to us when we humble ourselves, when we recognize His rule over us. When we place Jesus on the throne, front and center of our lives, and give up our willfulness, we become co-heirs with the King. Notice that the criminal who repented placed Jesus on the throne; specifically mentioning ‘Your kingdom.’

It is even more telling that Jesus gave no response to the one who mocked and taunted Him. Some think that God is a punishing and vengeful power. Yet here we see God’s true nature. He does not curse, punish, or in any way does He respond to the one whose heart remains cold – who hates to the end. God gives Him every moment available to take the opportunity to repent, to place God front and center. Jesus’ offer of merciful opportunity is such a powerful gift

The Lord wants us all to recognize ourselves in this moment, to see the true nature of His kingship, to cry out too, “Jesus, remember me,” and to know He does. We receive a prize we have not won when Jesus is our King. We will be with Him in Paradise!

We do have a
King.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

We have a bit of a problem as Christians.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is before Pilate. Jesus stands His ground and tells Pilate about His kingdom. He tells Pilate the purpose of His coming – “to testify to the truth.

Our “bit of a problem” is that when we describe Jesus as our King we often times, both in words and visually, describe Him as a humble King. His head is bowed, He looks meek and frankly – weak.

This image can be compounded further because our Church has a democratic tradition in its management. We also live in a democratic society and take our liberties seriously. We tend to prefer our King to be meek and weak.

To help us fully appreciate the Kingship of Jesus – His formal and official Office as our King – the Holy Church gives us this Solemnity. We need to take this opportunity to fix our perspective, to adjust our vision to see Jesus as the One who has absolute authority to rule and reign over us. The Magi and Pilate called Him King. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as the gentle and humble King riding on a donkey – a symbol of a king arriving in peace. In the days to come, with the arrival of the fullness of His Kingdom, He will come astride a white horse. The King astride a horse is a symbol of a king arriving in power to judge and wage war.

The “Kingdom of God” is noted at least sixty-six times in the New Testament, most of the references are in the Gospels. Jesus proclaims: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come . . .

We should have no doubt, Jesus is our King and we owe Him total loyalty, obedience, worship, and adoration. While the time is here we need to greet Him as the King who came in peace to free us and accept His forgiveness and His Lordship. We need to receive Him in awe and reverence for LORD! We are not worthy. It is time for us to recognize that we need to give Him the Lordship and power over our lives – for “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”

Reflection for the Solemnity of Christ the King 2014

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The best life
can be.

I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal

Why did Jesus come to us? Why would the eternal Son of the Father give up the glory of heaven, His absolute power and Kingship to walk among us as a man, subject to all the temptations, pains, suffering, and sorrows we so often face as human beings?

Love! God’s answer to us is always love. He came so we would know exactly how much He, as God, loves us. He came to give us the promise only love could give: I love you so much that I am willing to give it all up. I am willing to empty Myself of everything and lay My life on the line, so you could have the promise of love – a life that will never end, in perfect joy and peace, with me in heaven. If I do not give up my life for you, you could never enter into heaven. Now you can, because I loved you enough to do all that for you.

This presents us with a challenge. How can we possibly respond to this enormous love? Our response is contained in the picture at the top of our bulletin: by making the rest of our life the best of our life. What does it mean to have the best life? Is it gathering goods, focusing on our personal successes, being satisfied in what we have and our pleasures? No, not at all! Making the rest of our life the best of our life means being changed, that we allow ourselves to be changed by the love of God and to be about the business of love.

To be engaged in the business of love starts with making love known. Jesus points out many ways we can do this: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.

Of course, those are means – but what’s the point? These actions only make sense, make a point, if they are the means by which we bring knowledge of Jesus’ love to others and help them enter His love. We use human means to make Jesus known and as an invitation. This includes our charity, words and the way we act toward others. Making Jesus known and inviting others into His love is the point, the basis, of every Christian’s life. It is the way we make the rest of our life the best of our life. It is the way we carry out His work and help people into the Kingdom. To make the rest of our life the best of our life let’s set to work in helping people know how good and loving God is. The world is missing His love. Let us help them partake of His love.

Reflection for the Solemnity of Christ the King

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My Lord and King
remember me

Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

It is said that there are 3 kinds of people: Those who MAKE things happen; Those who WATCH what happens; and Those who WONDER what happened.

In today’s Gospel we read of these three sorts of people.

The Roman soldiers, the Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and the other leaders thought they had all the power. They could MAKE anyone die on the cross, and today it is Jesus along with two thieves. They considered themselves as the powerful movers and shakers. They were wrong.

Others stood by to WATCH. There was Mary, the other women who supported Jesus, and John. And, there were the thieves hanging there with Jesus. We could say that they were watching too – they had little choice.

One thief thought he could MAKE things happen. If he could mock and taunt Jesus enough, maybe there would be a grand miracle and he could go on his merry way freed from certain death. He too was wrong.

The other thief wasn’t going to stand by and just WATCH. He was not going to MAKE things happen either, at least not of his own accord. He reached into himself and found the exact kind of humility that REALLY MAKES things happen. He found the strength to place his trust in this Man, hanging next to him, badly beaten, bloody, humiliated, and dying. He saw through the blood and gore to the right and true. He saw that this Man was not just a man; rather He was God’s Son, the Messiah, who MAKES everything happen, Who will save him completely and forever.

That thief reached out in humility. He saw Jesus as the promised King whose power would free Him from death in sin to eternal life. “he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

People have stood by for centuries WONDERING what happened. Caught up in sin and hopelessness they have looked at this scene and have failed to trust or find humility before their King Who MAKES all things possible. They have failed to ask Jesus to remember them.

We renew our assurance that Jesus will MAKE things happen in our lives, things that bring us goodness, rest, peace, and freedom from sin. We cannot just WATCH, nor should we WONDER. We must be that 4th kind of person – the men, women, and children of FAITH who ask and are assured.