November 20, 2016: Christ the King Sunday
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” For the Christian, “to reign is to serve him,” particularly when serving “the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.” The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.
The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? and what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart? (786) Catechism of the Catholic Church
First Reading:2nd Samuel 5:1-3
Psalm:122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Second Reading: Colossians 1:12-20
Gospel: Luke 23: 35-43
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover. Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.” That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Maranatha! “Our Lord, come! (671)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Christ the King Sunday, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ’s act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”. It is Christ, the image of God (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), who enlightens fully and brings to completion the image and likeness of God in man. The Word that became man in Jesus Christ has always been mankind’s life and light, the light that enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:4,9). God desires in the one mediator Jesus Christ, his Son, the salvation of all men and women (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5). Jesus is at the same time the Son of God and the new Adam, that is, the new man (cf. 1 Cor 15:47-49; Rom 5:14): “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. In him we are, by God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). (121)
Colossians 1:15-16, 15-18, 18, 20
Faith in Jesus Christ makes it possible to have a correct understanding of social development, in the context of an integral and solidary humanism. In this regard, the contribution of theological reflection offered by the Church’s social Magisterium is very useful: “Faith in Christ the Redeemer, while it illuminates from within the nature of development, also guides us in the task of collaboration. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, we read that Christ is ‘the firstborn of all creation,’ and that ‘all things were created through him’ and for him (Col 1:15-16). In fact, ‘all things hold together in him’, since ‘in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things’ (v. 20). A part of this divine plan, which begins from eternity in Christ, the perfect ‘image’ of the Father, and which culminates in him, ‘the firstborn from the dead’ (v. 15-18), in our own history, marked by our personal and collective effort to raise up the human condition and to overcome the obstacles which are continually arising along our way. It thus prepares us to share in the fullness which ‘dwells in the Lord’ and which he communicates ‘to his body, which is the Church’ (v. 18; cf. Eph 1:22-23). At the same time sin, which is always attempting to trap us and which jeopardizes our human achievements, is conquered and redeemed by the ‘reconciliation’ accomplished by Christ (cf. Col 1:20)”. (327)
Human activity aimed at enhancing and transforming the universe can and must unleash the perfections which find their origin and model in the uncreated Word. In fact, the Pauline and Johannine writings bring to light the Trinitarian dimension of creation, in particular the link that exists between the Son—Word — the Logos — and creation (cf. Jn1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15-17). Created in him and through him, redeemed by him, the universe is not a happenstance conglomeration but a “cosmos”. It falls to man to discover the order within it and to heed this order, bringing it to fulfilment: “In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man — the world that, when sin entered, ‘was subjected to futility’ (Rom 8:20; cf. ibid. 8:19-22) — recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love”. In this way — that is, bringing to light in ever greater measure “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8), in creation, human work becomes a service raised to the grandeur of God. (262)
The entrance of Jesus Christ into the history of the world reaches its culmination in the Paschal Mystery, where nature itself takes part in the drama of the rejection of the Son of God and in the victory of his Resurrection (cf. Mt 27:45,51, 28:2). Crossing through death and grafting onto it the new splendour of the Resurrection, Jesus inaugurates a new world in which everything is subjected to him (cf. 1 Cor 15:20-28) and he creates anew those relationships of order and harmony that sin had destroyed. Knowledge of the imbalances existing between man and nature should be accompanied by an awareness that in Jesus the reconciliation of man and the world with God — such that every human being, aware of divine love, can find anew the peace that was lost — has been brought about. “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Nature, which was created in the Word is, by the same Word made flesh, reconciled to God and given new peace (cf. Col 1:15-20). (454)
Looking around our parishes on any given Sunday morning, does it appear we worship Christ as our King? How many people do we see reading the parish bulletin or writing a check for the offertory during liturgy? The looking at watches, counting the minutes until one is freed from their obligation and return to prioritizing personal needs, too absorbed with clock watching to worship in appreciation for the gift of Mass and presence of Christ the King. People engaged in reading the words of emails on their smart phones, instead of listening to the Word proclaimed. Impatience driving people to the door after receiving communion, instead of returning to their pew for prayerful reflection. Are the homeless people shoved out of the church for not being one of “us”? Is “all are welcome” the words of a song or lived as Gospel values in parish welcoming at liturgies? A final stamped to the doors before the final refrain is sung or final blessing bestowed concludes many liturgies. If Christ is our King and we fail to acknowledge His presence at Mass for an hour with our undivided attention and a heart of inclusive worship and praise, how do we live like Christ is our King the rest of 24/7? Does obligation, religious correctness drive our relationship with Christ, instead of thanksgiving? Do the activities of our parishes get driven by self-satisfying safe-zone agendas, instead of living the Gospel Christ our King asks us to live? Will a quick perusal of the parish bulletin highlight a plethora of social activities at the expense of education and service directed toward enthroning Christ the King?
The last Gospel reading for this liturgical year and the Year of Mercy ends with Christ’s passion on the cross , as he converses with the repentant criminal. Our King that forgives and desires we abide with Him. A consolation and also a challenge to prioritize our lives in service to our King through the nuances of our lives and our worship. Following our King gives us a desire to escape the power of darkness by the forgiveness of our sins. We become subjects of our King’s freedom, realizing the lifting of burdens and nothing we could do would merit such a gift. He is the head of the Body of Christ, the Church, our Brother, our Redeemer, our King. May we live and act each day, in all our activities as if He is.
Individual Reflection: Luke 23:35-43
Now that you have lived the Year of Mercy, reread Walter Kasper’s book, Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian LIfe
Family Reflection: Psalm 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5
This Thanksgiving include locally grown foods on your Thanksgiving table.
Prayer: At the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, say a prayer in thanksgiving for the insights and blessings you received.
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Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born November 11, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.