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Pastor's Letter 20211121 - 21 November 2021 - God's Kingdom in the Process of Being Established


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November 21st, 2021

Feast of Christ the King

A Message from Father Michael

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Today’s Theme:  

“God’s Kingdom in the Process of Being Established”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

For those unfamiliar with the literary form of “apocalyptic,” the book of Daniel may seem very much like “science fiction.”  With symbolic monsters and numbers, bizarre visions and other-worldly experiences, apocalyptic literature departs from the traditional and familiar to take the reader beyond the suffering and seeming inanity of time and space to a dimension of hope and peace.  Borne of time of crisis and persecutions, our First Reading’s purpose was to encourage and support those who were struggling to survive bother spiritually and politically (Daniel7:13-14.)    In Judaism, the concept of Daniel’s apocalyptic Son of Man developed to include notions of a heavenly Man, hidden, but Who would appear at the end of time to judge and save—in fact, a heavenly “ideal” Man, in harsh contrast to Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant.”

~~~

Next, we turn to +John’s “Apocalypse,” the book of Revelation.  When an earthly king dies, his power and title are relinquished in the act of death.  Immediately, the king’s heir is recognized, and begins to rule.  Christ’s reign stands in stark contrast to this image, as well.  In the cruel and tragic irony of the thorny crown and on the gruesome throne of the cross, Our Blessed Lord, Jesus, began His rule.  Precisely in the act of dying, the true nature of His Kingship was made known.  Today’s Second Reading is composed of a triple “doxology,” praising Jesus in His passion, resurrection and exaltation, as well as a proclamation of the “end times,” which the author believed would erupt at any moment.  +John thus wove a “saving net” of hope for his contemporaries (Revelation 1:5-8.) 

~~~

It’s interesting to note that while Pontius Pilate is looked upon in the western world as an accomplice in the plot that led to Jesus’ death on the cross, he (and his wife) are revered as  saint(s) in the Ethiopian Christian Church (due to his declaring himself “innocent” of Jesus’ blood.)  In our Gospel, today, the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate clarifies the non-political, non-partisan and non-parochial character of Jesus’ kingship (John 18:33-37.)  Jesus is heard to correct the Roman governor’s charge by reinterpreting what kingship and kingdom truly implied—calling them both to be “not of this world.”  (We should recall the distinction in +John’s Gospel between world as the created universe and world as the element hostile to truth and light.)  Jesus’ statement, “Not of this world,” was meant as “not created,” and “divine” in origin.  As King, Jesus exercises a supra-political and life-giving authority over human destiny.  Unlike the result of an earthly king’s death, without Jesus, there would be no kingdom….  But with Him, and in Him, and because of Him, there is a kingship, and a kingdom, whose realities are recognized and experienced by believers in the truth.

Weighty Questions

More than ever before in recent memory, people are asking themselves, “Am I satisfied with the achievements of my church?  In order to adequately address this question, we must first make a distinction between Jesus’ personal movement to establish God’s Kingdom of justice, love and peace on earth, and the Church, as it has been “institutionalized” over the centuries.  Perhaps it would be better to ask: “Has the Church achieved its goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth during the nearly 2,000 years of its existence?”  

At best, one might answer: “It has achieved only partial success!”  With so much evil around the world, it would be naïve to state that God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace has been fully realized on planet earth.  But we might ask if the Christian movement was designed to be one hundred percent successful?  It was left to human beings, who are possessed of “free will,” after all, and subject to all the vagaries that entails.  

We also judge ourselves—we don’t have to wait for the Last Judgment.  It happens NOW—in little ways, every day.  Long before “the end,” people will have already judged themselves.  Whether we decide for, or against, ourselves, our thoughts and our actions; for, or against, our brothers and sisters; for, or against, the truth—God’s judgment will not accomplish anything new.  It will merely show that which has already has come to pass. We must bear in mind that our Father’s love and mercy are at the heart of His judgment.  Our faith teaches that the final victory over all the peoples of the earth will only be achieved at the end of time, when Christ will present to His Father an eternal and universal Kingdom; a Kingdom of truth and life; a Kingdom of holiness and grace; a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.  We pray that we may be made part of it!  We have no need to fear the “last day,” as Jesus taught us—we must only be ready for it, in order that our lives may be a joyful experience of belonging to God’s Kingdom! 

Allegiance to Christ

We might think that idolatry belongs to primitive peoples and to the past.  However, modern people have their idols, too.  Money appears to be the most common idol, but there are others such as: possessions, pleasure, success, fame, power, etc. Idolatry leads at best to a superficial life, and at worst to a debased life.  But the greatest harm idolatry causes is reflected in people forgetting the true God.  

People can also make idols of themselves.  Communist leaders did this—in the “cult of personalities,” leaders literally put themselves on pedestals.  Everywhere you looked, in that society, you would see pictures and statues of them on display.  When communism collapsed, many statues were pulled down and smashed.  These self-serving idols stood for oppression and terror. Idols command; Christ invites. Idols rule through fear.  Christ brings freedom and life.  No wonder we give Him our allegiance, our loyalty, that we give to no other person or institution!  

Political power has the capacity to coerce others to subservience by means of force.  This resides with kings, and dictators.  It does not dwell in the person who occupies the position, however.  Political power is unrelated to goodness or wisdom.  We can cite many stupid and evil people who have exercised this power.  

It is important to distinguish between authority and influence on the one hand, and power and control on the other.  Some people with great moral authority are quite powerless, while those who are most influential have no need to control those whom they influence.  So, it was with Jesus.  The Romans had power over people; Jesus had influence on them.  Jesus made His presence felt simply by the kind of person He was.  His was the quiet authority in the case of everything He said and did.  

Christ is the hope of the human race, showing us Who God is, and how we can keep God at the center of our lives.  God is not some remote and uncaring figure.  He is our heavenly Father, Who is close to us, and to Whom we are important and precious.  

We should always remember: By the way we live, especially by our attitude to truth and justice, we declare whether we are on the side of Christ and His Kingdom, or whether we take the way of evasion and cowardice.  It is not possible to remain neutral….

May God Richly Bless You!

"Christ did not come to establish a political sovereignty; but to bear witness to the truth of God's eternal and universal sovereignty.

~~Flor McCarthy+ SBD~~

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To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://www.facebook.com/michael.schamp.9/videos/4589167411176489/?d=n

 

Edited by Father Michael
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