Saturday, November 19, 2016

Nov. 20, 2016: Christ the King, Year C

Nov. 20, 2016: Christ the King, Year C
Conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Click to hear audio homily
As we celebrate the conclusion of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I invite all of us to reflect back on this year. What was your most memorable experience of God’s mercy? What stands out as your most unforgettable act of mercy you did for someone?

A couple of experiences that stand out for me come from a retreat I made in Krakow, Poland this year,  a couple of months before 2.5 million young people arrived in Krakow for World Youth Day.  The first experience was a somber walk through the Auschwitz Concentration Camp where over a million people were killed. The empty barracks where people were housed stood as a reminder of the dark evil that humanity is capable of cooperating with. I stopped briefly to pray at the cell where priest and martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe died. He made the ultimate sacrifice when he volunteered to die in place of a stranger - a man with a family. His sacrifice was a testimony that Divine Mercy is stronger than evil. Second experience that
stands out was praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the very chapel where St. Faustina prayed with her fellow sisters. The chapel was packed at 3PM, the hour of Mercy, with nuns and pilgrims from all over the world gathered to offer to the Eternal Father, the body and blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

It was the same chapel where St. Faustina had a mystical experience. She wrote in her diary, "During Holy Mass, I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the Cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His Heart. After some time, He said: I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your suffering to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners.” (Diary of St., Faustina, 1032)

Today’s Gospel invites us to behold Jesus as King, even in the scene at Calvary. He hangs on a cross between two common thieves and over his head is the sign that reads: This is the King of the Jews. Those around him were mocking this title by calling out for him to save them, to save himself, to save all. Even as he hangs upon the cross, seemingly helpless, one thief asks Jesus for forgiveness and proclaims that he is the Savior. The other thief is unwilling to ask. One is promised salvation and paradise while the other is not. The mercy flows so freely from Jesus, yet we place obstacles that prevent us from receiving the gift that Jesus offers us.

Jesus is a king but he is a most unusual King; he is a crucified King. From the cross he extends an invitation to each of us to pick up the cross daily and follow him. In Baptism we have accepted this invitation and everyone is called to reach the potential that he has been given.

It is a most unusual kingdom -- a kingdom of holiness, justice and peace. The greatest in the Kingdom are the childlike. The weak conquer the strong, the foolish confound the wise and a camel gets through the eye of a needle, we add by subtracting and multiply by dividing because nothing is impossible with God.

In the Kingdom of God there is only one law, the law of love. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend of these two commandments.” (Matt 22: 37-40) Jesus identified the neighbor as the one in need and said that we love the neighbor by doing to him what we would wish him to do for us. Whatever we do for the neighbor he takes as having been done to himself.

In the Kingdom of God there is only one banquet, the Eucharist, which is a foretaste of the feast we will share in the next life. The King said that we are to do this in memory of him. We are waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ. We do not hold on to this life too tightly. The gift of life is great but the Giver of life is greater still and in Him is a life that never ends.

We are so privileged to be invited to this banquet of the Eucharist, the banquet where we drink deeply of His merciful love. This privilege also has a responsibility--”Be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful.” The great act of mercy of Our Lord on the Cross is also the invitation for us to live a merciful life.
St. Faustina responded to Jesus’ invitation this way:
O Christ, I am most delighted when I see that You are loved, and that Your praise and glory resound, especially the praise of Your mercy. O Christ, to the last moment of my life, I will not stop glorifying Your goodness and mercy. With every drop of my blood, with every beat of my heart, I glorify Your mercy. I long to be entirely transformed into a hymn of Your glory (Diary, 1708).

Is there someone you know who is burdened by sin or sadness? Tell them about your most memorable experience of God’s mercy and share how Jesus has called you out of your own darkness. Offer to pray with your friend, trusting that Jesus wants to mercifully call that person out of the darkness to live a new life of joy and freedom.