Christ the King: The Last Judge

WeeklyMessageHomilist: Fr. Joseph Pelligrino

Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time,
November 20, 2011

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. This is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. Through this feast the church is saying that all of our celebrations can be summed up in one statement: “Jesus is our King,”. We serve him.

The end of the Church year, the end of time, the last judgment, the solemnity of Christ the King–all these themes fit together as we are meditate on the gospel. Christ sits enthroned as King of Kings. He judges each of us. Dante would put it this way, “We are judged on our capacity for Love.” Today’s Gospel confronts us with the fact that if we haven’t shared his love with others, we cannot be exposed to the fullness of Christ’s love in heaven.

It is interesting that not only the goats, the people who don’t help others, but even the sheep, those who do help others, say that they don’t remember seeing the Lord. That’s understandable. Christ is present in every aspect of our lives. Only we might not recognize him. He is still there. Yes, He is present in Church, in Scripture and the Eucharist. But He is also present in the poor and the poorest of the poor, as Blessed Mother Theresa would refer to the suffering homeless. He is present in the children dying in Somalia. He is present in the young man dying of AIDS.

Yes, he is present in your family as you pray together at home before meals or at bedtime. But he is also present in your wife or your husband when he or she has had a bad day and needs your support. He is present in your children when their needs drain you. The infant you get up at 3 am to nurse is Christ. The toddler getting into everything and making a mess quicker than you can clean up after him or her is Christ. The child not understanding mathematics is Christ. The teenager needing both wings and protection is Christ, and the young adult you are putting through college is Christ.

Christ is present in those people we meet who are prayerful, spiritual, and charismatic. But He is also present in those who may not even recognize His presence in their lives. He is present in those mocked by our society. When we greet someone who is a bit eccentric and who everyone else treats poorly, we are greeting Christ. When we give help to a family struggling to make ends meet, we are helping Christ.

Perhaps, the foremost authority on today’s gospel was Blessed Mother Theresa. Her comment on the gospel was that at the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in. Blessed Mother Theresa went on to say, “Hungry, not only for bread, but hungry for love; naked not only for clothing, but for human dignity and respect; homeless not only for want of a room of bricks, but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.”

In many ways this is a disturbing gospel. We are troubled by a gospel that tells us that we are accountable not just for the things we do that are wrong, but also for the things we fail to do. We are troubled because we cannot get away with relegating our following of Christ into the compartments and slots of our life marked “religion”. The gospel tells us that is simply insufficient. To profess ourselves as Christian demands that we make a clear and conscious decision to integrate Christ into every thread and fiber of the fabric of our lives. There can never be a time or a situation that we refuse to recognize his presence in others.

This is the Solemnity of Christ the King. At the conclusion of the Church year we are asked what the Christ event means in our lives. We are asked about our world view. Do we view others as those loved by Christ, as those who Christ is present in, or are we so tied up in ourselves that we rarely integrate our living of the Christian life with our profession of Christianity?

We conclude the Church year by asking the Lord to help us serve the Kings of Kings as He presents Himself in those reaching out to us.

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 20, 2011

Feast of Christ the King: Last Judgment & Sins of Omission
The feast of Jesus Christ the Universal King was insituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and is observed on the last Sunday of the Roman Catholic Liturgical Year. It causes us to meditate on the Second and Final Coming of Christ, the last Judgment, and the end of the world.

On the final Sunday in the Roman Catholic liturgical year, it is time to remember things that we’d prefer to forget. For starters, we recall that there is an infinite qualitative difference between us and God. He is immortal and infinite. We are not. Each one of us will come to our individual end. But so will our society, our world, even our universe.

Heaven anyone?
One day, three men arrived at the Pearly Gates in Heaven. St. Peter was there to greet them and asked the first man, “What is your religion?” He replied, “I’m Episcopalian.” St. Peter looked on his list, found the man’s name and said, “Go to room 24. But be very quiet as you pass by room 8.” He asked the same question of the second man, “Sir, what is your religion.” The second man replied, “I’m a Methodist.” Again, St. Peter checked the list and found the man’s name and said, “Please, go to room 14. But be very quiet as you pass by room 8.” Finally the third man steps up and is asked the same question, to which he replies, “I’m a Baptist.” St. Peter said. “Go to room 21. But be very quiet as you pass by room 8.” The third man’s curiosity got the better of him so he asked, “St. Peter, I’m more than a bit curious. You told each of us to be quiet as we pass by room 8. What’s going on in room 8?” St. Peter responded, “Well the Catholics are in room 8, and they think they’re the only ones up here.”

What Does it Mean to Fear the Lord?
To modern ears the word “fear” is almost wholly negative. We usually associate it with threat or perhaps with some negative experience like pending punishment or diminishment. And yet, over and over, the Scriptures lift up the value of the “Fear of the Lord” and encourage us in this regard. As you may already know or at least suspect, the word “fear” has different senses or meanings.

10 Sneak Previews of the CATHOLICISM Series by Fr. Barron
Haven’t seen all or any of the CATHOLICISM series episodes by Fr. Barron yet? Well here are 10 sneak previews, one from each episode of the series (watch them below).

These previews have been released individually over the past year and I blogged about them each as they came out. But this is a nice post where you can watch all of the preview clips together in one post.

Purgatory in Scripture: New Developments
Four points in defense of human dignity. Adapted from an address delivered last night at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most of my sources in this essay are not Catholic. That shouldn’t be surprising. Catholics have no monopoly on respect for human dignity. Catholics do have a very long tradition of thinking about the nature of the human person and society, but I’d like to begin by setting the proper framework for our discussion.

First American Saint
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin (Feast day November 13) St. Frances was born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850, one of thirteen children. At eighteen, she desired to become a Nun, but poor health stood in her way. She helped her parents until their death, and then worked on a farm with her brothers and sisters.

One day a priest asked her to teach in a girls’ school and she stayed for six years. At the request of her Bishop, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. Then at the urging of Pope Leo XIII she came to the United States with six nuns in 1889 to work among the Italian immigrants.

St. Albert the Great – The Church and Science Are Not at War
St. Albert the Great was considered the “wonder and the miracle of his age” by his contemporaries. He was an assiduous Dominican whose accomplishments and gifts to the Church would be difficult to exaggerate. Born in c. 1206 and joining the Order of Preachers in 1223, Albert quickly became a master of almost every academic subject. Not withstanding the standards of his own time, he became a pioneer of the natural sciences –- both empirical and philosophical. His teachings on nature and theology were revolutionary, and he captured the attention of a young and taciturn Dominican –- St. Thomas Aquinas.

How should I prepare for Advent?
Q: Dear Father John, Advent is coming! Even from a distance I feel my shoulders tightening up from the stress of all the noise of the season that has nothing to do with Christ. Do you have any recommendations for how I might better prepare this year? Are you aware of any good books that I can use for spiritual reading through this season to help me to keep my eyes on Christ?

12-Step Pride-Elimination Plan
Pride is the deadliest of the deadly sins.

It is unrealistic, unattractive and unprofitable. One would have to be rather foolish, it seems, to grant significant room in his life to pride. If the devil could laugh, and the angels could weep, they would do so over the way we human beings stubbornly cling to pride.

Parables Lost: “Once Upon a Time…”
In a world where absolutes like truth, goodness and beauty are denied or cheapened, our children need to have these truths embodied in wonder.

The parables of Jesus employ simple, ordinary events to present profound and lasting truths.

Many of us can remember those special evenings when we would lie in bed, the covers tucked tightly around us, and mom or dad sitting next to our pillows. They held a large book before our eyes. It contained beautiful illustrations that took up three-fourths of the page with just a few lines of print at the bottom. But oh, that wonderful, ornate letter “O” that loomed so largely before us decorated with vines delicately woven throughout it and with tiny flowers accenting its calligraphy.

My God, My God. Why Hast Thou Left The Gun And Taken The Canoli?
Were I to say to any man between the age of 18 to 60, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” I would venture to say that 99% would know exactly what I was taking about. Don’t you?

Of course, I am quoting “The Godfather.” Any self-respecting dude that does not live in San Francisco’s Castro district has memorized almost every line of that movie. It is our mutual cultural reference point. If I say to someone “You gotta go to the mattresses,” they automatically understand that I am encouraging them to fight with everything they have and to bring that fight to the enemy.

The New Roman Missal: Focus on Christology
From “We believe” to “I believe”

Can a one-letter word really make a great difference? In the case of the revised translation of the Nicene Creed in the new Roman Missal, the answer is emphatically, “Yes!”

Instead of starting the Creed by saying, “We believe in one God…” we will begin by saying, “I believe in one God.”

Blessed Waters and You
In another entry I answered a question about water suitable for valid baptism. Someone asked about Holy Water. Here are a few notes about different blessed waters we Catholics use and enjoy. This is not meant to be exhaustive, of course. I just want to give a snapshot to those of you who haven’t heard of these things before.

A True Story: The “Hail Mary” is a Powerful Prayer
A little six-year-old Protestant boy had often heard his Catholic companion reciting the prayer ‘Hail Mary.’ He liked it so much that he copied it, memorized it and would recite it every day. ‘Look, Mummy, what a beautiful prayer,’ he said to his mother one day. ‘Never again say it,’ answered the mother.’ it is a superstitious prayer of Catholics who adore idols and think Mary a goddess. After all, she is a woman like any other. Come on, take this Bible and read it. It contains everything that we are bound to do and have to do.’

From that day on the little boy discontinued his daily ‘Hail Mary’ and gave himself more time to reading the Bible instead. One day, while reading the Gospel, he came across the passage about the Annunciation of the Angel to Our Lady. Full of joy, the little boy ran to his mother and said: ‘Mummy, I have found the ‘Hail Mary’ in the Bible which says: ‘Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women. ‘ Why do you call it a superstitious prayer?’

There are three kinds of evil that I want to talk about: suffering, death and sin. What we fear most, most of the time, is suffering, then death, then sin – exactly the opposite of what it should be.

Well, from somebody who has not suffered very much, you’re supposed to receive some wisdom about suffering. That’s irony. Alright, let’s just plunge in. There are three kinds of evil that I want to talk about: suffering, death and sin. What we fear most, most of the time, is suffering, then death, then sin – exactly the opposite of what it should be. But that’s alright; I’ll start with the problem of suffering.

A Good Examination of Conscience
Many Catholics only trot off to confession when they feel bad about what they’ve done. But how we feel about our sins is not necessarily an accurate indicator of the severity of the sin.

We usually feel bad about our sin with three different emotions: fear, shame and guilt. Fear is simply the fear of getting caught. “Geesh! What if somebody found out about that!!” This is a very powerful emotion, but not really the best motivation for going to confession. It might be a doozy of a feeling, but it’s self interested. You don’t mind the sin that much. You just quiver at the thought of being found out or being punished.

Little Things Mean a Lot
“The Journal of Mundane Behavior” is a professional publication of Cal State, Fullerton. It features scholarly articles that study the ordinary and routine things that people do. Early issues explored the significance of shaving, running errands, the table arrangement and background noise of a neighborhood café, and the making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sociologist who created this journal did so because he was concerned that his professional colleagues virtually ignored the study of the everyday behavior that fills most people’s lives.

Dealing with Disappointment
Life is hard, and there are going to be days where it seems that your world is caving in around you. For most of us, those days usually involve death, failure, sin, or some other monumental event. Then there are the days where we feel almost as bad due to some big disappointment, but to almost any onlooker there is absolutely nothing wrong, except they might notice you are wearing mismatched socks. Sometimes, these days are actually the hardest to get through. Sure the really hard days, previously mentioned, are tough but during those days it is so easy to cling to our faith, accept with open arms our friends and family, and realize the important things in life. During these other days though, the ones filled with disappointment, these are the toughest because our faith seems so sterile, our friends dont even notice our troubles, and life seems to be passing us up without notice.

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