SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE
Today, the last Sunday of the 2016 Liturgical Year, we conclude as always with proclamation and declaration of Jesus’ lordship—his absolute authority over our lives. The whole liturgical year we have stood with the people of the Gospel who came to recognize in Jesus “one who speaks with new authority.” We have been pilgrims along the way of the Paschal Mystery—from “Love following upon Love” to “born to us in Bethlehem” to sermons preached about what happened on Calvary and to the empty tomb. Meanwhile, this pilgrimage has had as its purpose—our continued and deepening assent to Jesus who is- The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Today’s readings style this King as SHEPHERD, a shepherd who tends his flock with care and protection wherever they may be scattered and even though they are scattered. At the same time, he is a shepherd-king who will, in the end, separate the sheep from the goats. Ah yes, we goats—we sinners—had better be mindful of the need for true contrition and repentance, because the shepherd-king has taught us in so many ways along the road that “we know not the day nor the hour” and that the day of his return “will come like a thief in the night.”
In what way might we respond in order to show our desire to renew and repent? How do we best give praise to the Father and celebrate the gift of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ the King? 2016 stands to be remembered as yet another year in which terrorism continued to make its ugly presence felt—a year of much “scattering” and a year in which we have seen little resolution and escalated tensions in the Middle East. Is there “a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul”? But of course there is. And there is an ADVENT just around the corner to remind us so.
I dare say, a well-spent Advent—personally, communally, and globally—is just what is needed. Advent is the Season of Hope born of the faith in the Birth of a SAVIOR-KING. He comes to save us! Advent is the season of never giving up on the solutions to our problems, no matter how great or how small. It is the season of reliance upon the ability of OUR REDEEMER-KING—to redeem!
Now that a new President of the United States of America has been elected, permit me at this point to make an ADVENT referral. I refer us to all of the helping hands reaching out to earthquake and storm victims, to all those helping veterans to find gainful employment, and to all who understand outreach to the oppressed. They get it! They get that Jesus uses all of us as his instruments of redemption and salvation. They get that Jesus calls and expects his true followers to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. Can we as individuals and families at least capture some of that same spirit? This, after all, is the path to being the United States of America that Our Lord, Jesus Christ King of the Universe, calls us to be in a world crying out for PEACE. For this we must go to the Prince of Peace!
Join me, then, in praying on this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, “BLESS OUR ADVENT, LORD! LET IT NOT BE LOST ON US, YOUR PILGRIMS.” We just need it too much.