This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King the last Sunday of the Churches year. The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, this is a way of life which leaves God out of a person’s thinking and has us living life as if God did not exist as we all know God does exist and we see this through so many people throughout history right down to ourselves. In this feast we profess our common belief: Christ is King. This is reflected when we pray the Lord’s Prayer together We pray, “Thy kingdom come”, i.e., we pray that our lives together will better reflect what Jesus has in mind for us as a community of God’s people.
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday has Jesus before Pilate. The authorities of the time did not like the truth that Jesus was speaking about on so many things as many within and outside the Church do not like the truth that the Church teaches. In the reading from John’s Gospel which is also part of the Good Friday Passion Narrative we see this conflict is described in terms of the “truth” that Jesus has brought from his Father: “It is because I speak the truth that you cannot believe me” (8:45).
Jesus urged the people of his time as he encourages you and me in our time to find again our true calling in the work of God, to be “a light to the nations,” showing the world the life and joy of a people living according to the ways they have learned from Jesus son of the Father. At the end of this church year , we are asked to embrace the cross and walk in the victory of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. What began as a humble event with the birth of Jesus in the stable has changed the world. As we prepare for Christmas during Advent are we with Jesus and his call to us to be merciful as the father? Are our lives an open sacrifice in a demonstration of the love of God? We can be sure that nobody there on Good Friday thought they were witnessing the death of a great King and that we would celebrating Christ as our King over 2000 years on in 2018.
This week end there are many things and people to pray for and we think about and pray for all those who are affected by the wildfires that are ongoing at the moment in California. We pray for the families of all those who perished as well as those who are missing.
In November as a Church we pray for the dead as we come to the end of the Liturgical Year we listen to Jesus’s words concerning the end times. The vision of the future in the Gospel Reading for this Sunday doesn’t look very appealing. The bad news is delivered first of all. Jesus imagines a time of terror and trouble and persecution. People will be betrayed and handed over to the authorities. There will be wars and earthquakes and famines. Jesus says, “These things must happen.” Then there will be cosmic upheavals: “the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven”. After this catalogue of disaster there is the good news. Jesus looks beyond the time of distress to the final time, when the Son of Man will gather the scattered people of God to himself. Jesus sees beyond suffering and persecution to a future of peace with God.
God does not call us to be anxious, but he calls us to confidence in the message we hear in the gospel and proclaim in our lives and he calls us to be vigilant that we remain in his light. Christ remains our high priest who has offered himself for the forgiveness of our sins. God knows what it is to be human. The Lord calls us to stayawake amidst the distractions of life, so that we will recognize him when he comes again. St. John of the Cross wrote, “When evening comes, you will be examined in love” (Sayings, 60). We prepare for the day of Christ’s coming by first recognizing him in our brothers and sisters and by knowing him in his word and his sacraments. False securities and shallow guarantees will not sustain us in times of strife and testing. God alone must be our hope. God’s ways must be our ways, so that when our securities and misplaced confidences fail us we can turn our eyes to God’s saving light. Let us keep vigilant — and not be anxious — for that day when God who is love calls us and looks at us with love.
This Sunday we commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War with the Armistice that took place on the 11th November 1918 at 11am. Over 200,000 people went to war from Ireland in the Irish and Ulster divisions and 36,000 of them did not return. the primary hope of that first Armistice Day in 1918, was that the first World War would have been “the war to end all wars Unfortunately, 100 years later that hope is still a distant dream. Today we thank god for all those who gave their tomorrows so that we have our todays. As we commemorate the centenary of the end of the first world war and remember all those who died in that war and in the various conflicts since 1918 let us redouble our efforts to Pray for peace and to be people of peace.
The dignitaries in This Sundays Gospel need more than a defence counsel, for Jesus is putting his case for the prosecution. The scribes were expert lawyers, who interpreted and applied the written Law through a complicated system of traditions. Jesus makes a series of charges against the scribes.
He criticises their habit of wearing distinctive dress, which marks them as different from others. He criticises their habit of taking the places of honour at religious and civil functions. He criticises their habit of long-winded prayers, made not to God but to their immediate audience. Finally, he denounces their practice of exploiting helpless widows by living off their savings. The story in the gospel goes on to tell us about the poor widow who went along to the treasury and puts in two of the smallest coins in circulation. In the arithmetic of the kingdom the widow’s offering is worth more than all the other contributions. Whereas the others give from their surplus, she gives everything she has. That is the key point in this gospel reading she gave everything she had the widow’s action follows immediately on his critique of the scribes who profit from their status . It is a warning to those leaders in ministry who bask in their own significance and live comfortably off the backs of those they serve. The Gospel story about the widows contribution to the treasury is a good lesson in having a proper perspective of oneself.
Her kind of humility is praised, as an honest thanks giving to God for all she has. This encourages us to try and stretch our resources rather than seeing the giving as an obligation or after thought, certainly giving from the heart rather than for show. And that is really what we should be about giving from the heart recognising that we need to be like the widow of the gospel who gave everything she had.
This weekend we celebrate the 31st Sunday of ordinary time and last Thursday we celebrated the feast of All Saints. Each of us are called to be saints and the feast of All saints honours all those unsung heroes of the faith who are saints even though the Church has not Canonised them. They are the men and women who “hung in there” despite all sorts of obstacles, to faithfully believing in God and His Son, Jesus. All of us have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in Jesus footsteps and try to conform ourselves to his image as we seek to do the will of the Father in all things In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history”.
Our Gospel reading this weekend is all about the first and greatest commandments of the law. In his reply to the scribe Jesus makes it clear that you cannot compose summaries of the Law while forgetting love of neighbour.
The scribe is pleased with Jesus’ reply and adds his own point, that the love of God and neighbour is far more important than any ritual worship. In supporting the scribe’s addition, Jesus places the demands of liturgy far below the demands of active love.The transformation caused by God’s love is so profound that it flows from us towards God and is expressed in love of neighbour. Like Moses, Jesus calls us to love God with our entire being because his life and death are a manifestation of God’s love for each of us. The scribe in this Gospel states that the law of love of God and neighbour is greater than any of the religious observances and laws concerning sacrifices. Revered Temple worship and sacrifice must take second place to the observance and sacrifice that comes with loving God and neighbour. Jesus says that the scribe has answered wisely about the superiority of love over any sacrifice and then says to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God. Our God is the God of history. Our God is the creator of all that is. We are God’s dream. Our living with God is not only in our places of worship and community. God is with us in the market place, on the factory floor, in the politics of life. Our God is with us on the streets, in homeless shelters, in the hospitals and mental institutions that seek to heal us.
As a matter of fact God is with us wherever we are and in whatever we are doing in his name. Our lives are not divisible into secular and religious though some might want it that way. We are called like the pharisee in this Gospel story to love the Lord our God and our neighbour as well and to bring that love out into the world where we are.