Sunday, November 29, 2015

Jesus Christ the King (2015-11-22)

SUNDAY 22 November 2015
34th Sunday Ordinary Time   [ CHRIST  THE  KING ]

• Daniel 7:13-14  • Psalm  93 • Revelation 1:5-8 • John 18:33b-37 •

BibliographyJohn Henry Newman, “Christian Reverence” (Bk. I, Serm. 23) Parochial & Plain Sermons (1891),   San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.

[__01__]     We observe, according to this Gospel, what Pontius Pilate said and did regarding Jesus, our Lord at his trial.

We observe according this Gospel reading – and other Gospel accounts – what happened to Jesus after this Law & Order interrogation by the prosecutor and procurator, Pilate.

Pilate ordered, or at least made little effort to halt or hinder, the crucifixion and death of Jesus.

Pilate, then, is a symbol of indifference to God’s goodness, indifference to God’s truthfulness and indifference to God’s love.
 [*** P A U S E ***]
 [__02__]   If you or I were in a conversation with Pontius Pilate, what would we say about Jesus, our Savior?

More generally, if we were in the presence of anyone who was indifferent to Christ, to the Church, what we would we say?

We might, at times, not say too much.

Pilate is indifferent to Christ …and Jesus does not say too much even in his own defense.  

[__03__]      Consider what happens in our political seasons and scenarios. If you or I were to admire or hold one particular candidate with great honor or respect, we might be careful about what we say and how we express our opinion, our esteem our values.

We might be careful about saying this at the dinner [or Thanksgiving] table of certain family members, we might be careful about saying it near the desks of certain co-workers, or in the company of certain people at at school or in public.

The same might be said of our religious faith, our Catholic faith and doctrine and teaching.

Yes, we are called to be witnesses to  God’s commandments, to pray constantly, in season and out of season.   By the way we care for our families, our health, our children, our spouses, by the way we show affection, we can be witnesses to the sanctity of life at all stages.

We can also be witnesses to the presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by our words and our silence.

 [__04__]   At the same time, is it not also prudent that we consider where and when to express these truths?    

For example, some family members – whether at Thanksgiving Dinner or at other times – might not be ready to hear my profession of faith in the format of the Apostles’ Creed. Some might be indifferent even to grace before meals.

They might be indifferent.

John Henry Newman, in a sermon about “Christian Reverence” writes:

“We must wait for all opportunities of being useful [to men], but beware of attempting too much at once … seldom must we engage in controversy or dispute for it lowers the sacred truths to make them a subject for ordinary debate.”[1]    

[__05__]   In his mandatory Jerusalem court appearance before Pilate, we observe that this is no ordinary debate.

In fact, Jesus is not a candidate for office.

What we observe in District of Columbia, inside the beltway and beyond, and what we observe in Trenton and other capitals is the candidate’s desire for for praise and popularity. Popularity wins votes, wins debates wins elections, raises money.

However, Jesus is not a candidate for office.

He is a king. He is our king. This Sunday is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King.

 [__06__]    And, the status and inclination of kings and royalty are different, are they not.  Kings do not ask for votes or for approval.

Of course, there are examples of corrupt kings, queens, monarchs through whom dicatatorships and oppression have existed. However, we can put those aside. Jesus himself said that he would not be such a king or ask his followers to create such a kingdom, but to serve – in leadership – with humility:

You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.  But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;  whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

John Henry Newman observes that even in the washing of the feet of the disciples, Jesus is displaying his authority while also serving.   Peter, for example, who protested that he did not deserve to have his feet washed is subdued by Jesus’ command.

[__07__]   What a King asks for is reverence, respect, trust. 

Kings do not try to win debates.

Or, as John Henry Newman states: “kings do not court the multitude or show themselves a spectacle at the will of others.”[2]

Their presence is enough.

I thought it was interesting that when two of the British royal family – Prince William and his wife, Catherine Middleton, visited the French embassy last week to pay their respects due to the terrorist attacks, the news was not based on anything that they said, but simply that they showed up.

There was videotape of William and Kate signing their names in a book of condolences  in London. As royalty, one’s name and one’s presence is all that is required.

Newman: “Kings do not court the multitude or show themselves a spectacle at the will of others.”[3]

Kings do not go on Fox, CNN or CBS News to debate or to arouse curiosity.

[__08__]    And, while Jesus appears before Pilate due to Pilate’s intellectual curiosity, Jesus is not interested in the satisfaction of curiosity.

Rather, our Savior is interested in our commitment our actions.

[__09__]   Yes, there are public manifestations of our faith. There are public testimonies for us to make.

But, first, we are called to pray to our Father in secret so that the Father who sees in secrete will assure us of a place in his kingdom and assure us of opportunities to speak, to be his witness and to share our faith with others in the Church and in his kingdom.  [__fin__]    

[1] John Henry Newman, “Christian Reverence” (Bk. I, Serm. 23) Parochial & Plain Sermons (1891), San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, (p. 196).
[2]  John Henry Newman, “Christian Reverence” (Bk. I, Serm. 23) Parochial & Plain Sermons (1891), San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, (p. 189).
[3]  John Henry Newman, “Christian Reverence” (Bk. I, Serm. 23) Parochial & Plain Sermons (1891), San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, (p. 189).


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