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Pastor's Letter 20201122 - 22 November 2020 - The Leadership of Our Lord

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November 22nd, 2020

34th Sunday in Ordinary Time— Feast of Christ the King

Today’s Theme: “The Leadership of Our Lord”



Today is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Most of us know it simply as the Feast of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast day in 1925, as he was concerned about the state of the world, post-World War I—a war in which more than 9 million combatants were killed along with more than 21 million wounded.  History records that people seemed to be “lost” about what had happened and the state of the world was remarkably tense. That same decade saw Mussolini march on Rome and form a Fascist government in Italy, Stalin coming to power as the Soviet Dictator, and the beginning of Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror. Possessed by fear, the world suffered from lack of hope, and feelings of helplessness. So the Feast was established as a reminder to all about Who is ultimately, and eternally, “in charge.”  But “kingship” is a foreign concept to the American mindset, as we live in a democratic republic, not a kingdom—we elect our leaders; they don’t descend from a long line of monarchs.  Even so, our vision of “a king” may be skewed.

Anyone who has seen Disney’s, “The Lion King,” are presented with a young Simba, breaking out in the song, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”  In it, he expresses his view of kingship, and how he will be the mightiest king of all.  Simba anticipates his kingly power enabling his “looking down” on others; having ultimate authority; not having to answer to or take advice from anyone of lower status than he; finally having the freedom to do whatever he wishes; and always being in the spotlight.  Of course, his character was young and naïve and his words exaggerated, but some of those sentiments may not be far from how many people still think of kings—someone of noble birth with supreme authority and power over their citizens; able to do whatever they want. To be fair, history does record many monarchs who ruled with justice and service to their people.  Rather it is replete with devastating results of monarchs taking Simba’s kind of leadership to the level of utter injustice—even exploiting their power and dominion to the level of terror and war.  Today we are witnessing that kind of leadership in North Korea, and in the extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.  One only has to refer to the latest news for confirmation. Pius Xi wanted people to reflect on Jesus as King—but not just any king:  the King of the Universe.  Christ represents a nonviolent kingship; one that is just and peaceful, with authority based on the rule of truth, love and mercy; a kingship that will persist until the end of time!  No matter what chaos and fear may distract us in today’s world, they are not part of His heavenly Kingdom.  

Scripture Note

In †Matthew’s scene of the Last Judgment, in today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46,) Christ is portrayed as a stern King and Judge.  But this image shouldn’t be over-emphasized.  Ezekiel has a gentler image as in our First Reading today—that of a Good Shepherd, Who, while caring for all the sheep in His flock, shows particular care for the weak and wounded ones (Ezekiel 34:11-17,)—the very image Christ Himself used to describe His Person and His mission.  And His followers  throughout the millennia have shown they truly belong to His kingdom by their service to the “little ones.”  †Paul tells us that at the end of time, Christ will triumph over all evil—the final evil being death, itself (1 Corinthians 15-20-28,) in our Second Reading.

Serving the King

Human beings require their basic needs to be satisfied before any kind of “higher life” is possible.  And in many countries, these needs have, indeed, been satisfied.  But that does not mean the words of Christ about feeding the hungry or clothing the naked are no longer relevant—quite the contrary. Mother Teresa once said: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world, who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”? Mother Teresa, A Simple Path.   Therein, we see how Christ’s words are as relevant today as ever.  We might paraphrase His directives like this:  

To those on His “left,” He could say:

“Depart from Me, for I was hungry, not for food but for a smile, and all you gave Me was ‘sour looks.’  I was hungry for a word of encouragement, but all you did was criticize Me.   I hungered for appreciation, but you gave me not so much as a crumb.

“I thirsted not for drink but for a word of recognition.  What you gave Me was ‘nagging.’  I wanted some sign of friendship, but you scorned Me.

“I was a stranger and you refused to have anything to do with Me.  I was a child, and you wouldn’t let your children play with Me, because my clothes were torn and dirty.  I was a neighbor, but you wouldn’t let Me be part of your ‘club,” because I wasn’t in your ‘class.’

“I was naked—not because I lacked clothes, but because I lacked self confidence, and you made Me feel the chill wind of disapproval.  I was naked from the lost of My good name through false gossip, and you refused to ‘clothe’ Me with the ‘garment’ of truth.

“I was sick with doubt and worry, and you never noticed.  I was wounded by failure and disappointment, and you couldn’t have cared less.  I was in deep depression, desperately needing the ‘medicine’ of hope, and all you did was blame me.

“I was a prisoner—not behind bars—but of ragged nerves, and you shunned Me.  I was desperately lonely, and you gave Me a cold shoulder.  I was a prisoner of guilt, and rather than help me get free with your forgiveness, you allowed me to languish, which punished me even more.

“I was homeless—not because I lacked an edifice of bricks and mortar, but for the want of sympathy and understanding—and you treated Me as if I were a block of wood!  I was homeless for want of love and acceptance and you locked Me out of your heart."

Then the King could say to those on His “right:”

“Come, you who have been blessed by My Father, for I was hungry for a smile, and you gave Me yours.  

"I hungered for encouragement and you praised Me.

 "I hungered for words of encouragement and you praised Me.  

"I hungered for appreciation and you thanked Me….

“I was the stranger you welcomed, noticed and included me….

“You covered my nakedness low self-esteem with a sense of self-worth….

“Your cheerful attitude lightened my burden and My sickness of doubt and worry was taken away….

“I escaped My ‘prison’ of nerves and loneliness because your attitude of calm friendship released Me….

“You embraced Me with sympathy and understanding, and I was ‘homeless’ no longer, bathed in your warmth, love and acceptance….

If we are more sensitive to others in our midst, we could do so much more than simply “giving them things.”   When we give of ourselves—our time, our energy, our patience—we are serving Christ and helping to build His Kingdom on earth. Christ, our King, gave Himself totally while He lived on earth.  Even as He died, He was still giving to those who were receptive.  From His lofty perch in Heaven, He surveys the plight of God’s children on earth.  But His feet are fastened, like a statue.  His hands are tied and His tongue silent.  He needs messengers—you and me—to do His bidding.  We must realize we are called to dispense His riches, not our own to our fellow travelers on their paths of life.  We are called to offer His forgiveness; His mercy; and His Good News!  

Natural Reluctance to Serve Others

There is a danger in thinking “someone else will tend to the world’s problems."  We might rationalize our inaction by thinking, “There are people whose ‘job’ is to take care of that.”  It may be that some of us think of Christ and His mission only when we are gathered for worship.  Out in the world, the pressures and obligations of our busy lives “consume” us to such a degree, there often seems like there is “nothing left” for anyone outside our immediate circle.  I must confess that I’m as much to blame for such an attitude as anyone….  

When we meet “Christ,” in the person of someone in need, our first thought isn’t, “Here is ‘Christ’ in the form of this poor soul.”  But maybe we should think this way.  It’s easy to be cordial and forthcoming to someone who is noteworthy.  Important people garner our admiration and respect, naturally.  Many times we are motivated by some possible reward or recognition for the service or attention we may give to them.  But it’s quite another matter to be kind to those from whom we can expect nothing in return—perhaps not even a “thank you.”   It’s all too convenient to be uncaring.  

Some people who are genuinely sensitive to others’ needs oftentimes are almost apologetic about their goodness.  They tend to be embarrassed when someone praises them.  They don’t any “big deal” made of their kindness.  Charity is never so lovely as when we lose consciousness of our altruism.   In the litany of faults I’ve outlined above, and in the judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel today, we hear of people actually being condemned—not for the sins of commission, but those of omission.  We may think of ourselves as “good,” simply because we don’t do any “harm” to anyone.  But sometimes there also may be harm in not doing good!  The sin of omission can be one of the worst sins of which we can be guilty.   In the Christian view, there is only one real failure in life—the failure to love.  We must concentrate on doing good rather than simply avoiding evil.  And we can’t wait for big opportunities to come along.  Instead, we should avail ourselves of little opportunities that come our way every day—to be friendly, helpful, attentive, compassionate and obliging.  In so doing, we may be spared the ache of loneliness and sadness often experienced by “good people,” when they realize late in life they have left undone what ought to have been done.    

May God Richly Bless You!

“ When you love, the angels sing; and you are welcomed when you love the least of these.” ~~Mother Teresa~~ 

To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://youtu.be/suDGyJE4fHg


Praise to the King.docx

Praise to the King.mp3







Edited by Father Michael
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