Christ the King (B)

Jesus the King of Truth and Love
“I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”

The Solemnity of Christ the King was established in 1925. Pope Pius XI had seen the rise of secularization, atheism, and communism. The world was still trying to recover from World War I, which had devastated Europe and shattered people’s hopes for unlimited progress based solely on human reason. Besides, it was just around this time that the Russian Revolution, which had given birth to the world’s first explicitly atheist totalitarian regime: Soviet communism. Everywhere the pope looked, he saw human societies abandoning Christian values and trying to build paradise on earth through other means. The pope by instituting today’s Solemnity reminds the world that to reject Christ, either in private life or in public life, is to reject our only hope, and to accept him is to accept life eternal. He is a model leader, who inspires, guides and empowers people.

What is that makes Jesus so special? He was born in a stable while others were born in palaces. He had to flee for safety, while others grew in opulence. He came to serve, while others were served. He loved and cared for everyone and died for us that we may gain eternal life, while others instilled fear and used swords to subdue their subjects. He came down from heaven in order to take us to heaven, while others were of the earth and had no power to take us to heaven. He is the perfect human being with out sin, while others are imperfect and born with original sin.

The multiplication of the loaves had a great impact on the people, who wanted to make him the king. Jesus refused this dignity, and escaped from those who were looking for him to proclaim him as king (Jn. 6, 15). Later, he was to die with the accusation that he had wanted to be the king of the Jews and their liberator from foreign dominion (Jn. 19, 19-21). But Jesus claimed this dignity and title for himself only when there was no possibility of his being misunderstood, during a trial when even his friends had abandoned him, his enemies mocked him and the authorities condemned him to death. It was only in this moment of extreme weakness and supreme loneliness; that Jesus acknowledged, with certainty and dignity, that he was the king.

The Gospel of today (Jn. 18:33b-37) presents us with the true meaning of Christ’s kingship. The form of kingship that Jesus assumed is that of servitude and fidelity to truth. The King of the Jews is the beloved Servant of Yahweh who brought to fulfillment the Father’s saving plan to save the poor and the sinners. Indeed, Jesus is a King, but not of earthly origin. His kingdom is not of this world (Jn. 18:36), but of the spiritual order. His exercise of kingship consisted in bearing witness to the truth (Jn. 18: 37). He is the Messiah sent from heaven to reveal the truth about God’s love. Hence, the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated in his entire life of service and self-giving is a “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface of the Feast of Christ the King). The Kingdom of God is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs 122 times in the Gospels, 90 of which are on the lips of Jesus. “The Kingdom of God is a total, global, and structural transfiguration and revolution of the reality of human beings; it means the cosmos purified of all evils and full of the reality of God” says Eugene Maly a biblical scholar.

The crucifix with the inscription: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews,” tells us of his claim to be a king not of this world but the world to come. Remember when Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied: “Yes I am but my kingdom is not of this world therefore you have no authority over me.”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” (Jn. 18. 36-38

What is remarkable is that He speaks with authority. He doesn’t say he is one wise man among many, one philosopher among many, or one prophet among many. He tells us that all the nations of the world will come before him to be judged; He holds in his hands the eternal destiny of every man and woman of all time. Jesus is claiming to be the Lord and King of the entire universe, of all history, and of eternity and he will judge everyone at the end of our lives. He is the way, the truth and the life at all times.
There is another realm of existence where He reigns supreme. Neither Pilate nor any worldly powers will be able to do any harm to his authority there. His kingdom is in the hearts of people. Emperors after emperors tried in vain to dethrone him from the hearts of people. Religions, ideologies and political masters through the centuries tried and are trying even today in vain to remove Jesus from the hearts of people. Recently ISIS tried the heinous and worst kind of cruelties on Christians just because Christ is the king in their hearts. But they thought it is better to die than to reject him. So they gave their lives victoriously to become members in his kingdom. But their efforts are not going to succeed since Jesus is the supreme power of this world.

Jesus is king of the universe, because of what he is to each one of us. He is the author of our life, the beginning and the end. Jesus is close to us, he walks by our side, he lifts us up when we need help and he gave his life for us. The celebration of this feast is an impetus to put Jesus first and foremost in our lives and make him King of our hearts and minds. We make Jesus king of our minds by blocking out voices that are contrary to Jesus and filling our minds with what would please Jesus. When we make Jesus King of our minds it is much easier to make Jesus King of our actions. We make Jesus King of our actions when we have decisions to make and we choose the option that would most please Jesus.
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:9-11, has a beautiful hymn to express the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus attributed by the Heavenly Father.
“God has highly exalted him [Jesus],
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

33rd Sunday (B)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

We are Living between the first and Second Coming of Jesus, we cannot but be aware that there is a great battle going on, a battle between good and evil, which seems to be intensifying. On one side we see it especially in the destruction of family life, the priesthood and the lack of respect for life. While on the other hand, we also see the good that people do, the rise of prayer groups, people going on pilgrimage and an eagerness to encounter and experience God in their lives. The battle between good and evil will be finally over when Jesus comes again. Then evil will be conquered forever and good will be victorious.

The radical intervention of God to destroy the ultimate power of evil in the end-time is the theme of today’s Gospel reading (Mk 13:24-32). While the end-time description, with its dark imagery of trials, tribulations, and turmoil is scary, there is also the note of consolation, which takes form in the glorious figure of the Son of Man, Jesus, coming in the clouds to gather his faithful and chosen ones from the four winds of the earth. The heart of this powerful apocalyptic device is the belief that God would one day intervene in a cataclysmic way to destroy evil and restore the fullness of life and abounding peace. Ultimately, the specter of doom gives way to the hope of a new creation, where the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its light, and the stars will fall before the splendor of the Son of Man.

Jesus reiterates the power and the efficacy of His words in the life of every disciple, who listens and translates them into his life. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “The word of God is active and alive, cuts more finely than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow. It can read our secret thoughts and emotions.” (Heb.4, 12)
We are fortunate to have received the words of life. The word of God should continuously inspire and guide us in all our actions. Where do we stand? Am I open to listen what God is speaking to me? What is the impact of the words of Jesus in my life and activities? Do they guide me? Am I a living gospel? Perhaps seldom in the history of the Church has the message of this Word of God been as relevant as it is at the present time. Precisely because we feel secure in this world that we have built, because we have never enjoyed so much comfort and convenience, such economic and social progress, so much peace and civil liberty, we have relegated God to the last place. We believers know well that our world without God, our house without a Father, is steadily becoming a less human place and a home without brothers. We have exiled the Father, our brother has become our enemy, our neighbor has become a stranger. Our suffering has no value in a world without God, and a society that has no God and no future.

Living now in the time between the first and Second Coming of Jesus each of us has the capacity – a second chance – to quicken the triumph of good over evil by living more as Jesus asks or perhaps we could say to allow Jesus to have more control over our lives. This is to have the primacy of the spiritual and supernatural as a priority in us. We allow Jesus to have more room in our lives by spending time with him in prayer, by attending Mass every Sunday and as often as possible during the week, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, once a month or if possible more frequently, by praying the Rosary, by praying together as a family and also through acts of charity. We allow Jesus more room in our lives and more control over our lives when we live the way he asks us to live, when we are morally upright. When we allow Jesus to be the focus of our lives we are tipping the balance in the battle between good and evil a bit more towards the eventual victory of good over evil.

Today our life is preoccupied with so many things and it is easy to forget about the second coming of Christ. We prefer to ignore our mortality and put off our preparation for the death, which we all must face. How do we prepare ourselves? How do we get ready? How will we be sure that the Lord recognizes us? What are the right choices to make during our day? The end of chapter 25 reads:

“Then the king will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Although we do not know the day or the hour of the second coming of Christ, we do not know the day or the hour of our own deaths, we have been told what staying awake entails. It will be unfortunate if we have to hear from the Lord: “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you, it will be because of our foolishness and not because of a lack of mercy or justice on the part of the Lord.

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and in the process loses his own soul? This is the message we have to proclaim by our hope-filled lives and by our active opposition to evil that destroys the human beings. We believe that God still has a place in today’s world and a role to play. To make our witness credible we must be Christians with greater commitment, optimism and hope, with no discouragement or pessimism, as we face up to the task of proclaiming to our world that a world without God will surely end.

32nd Sunday (B)

“ This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.”

Today’s readings from the Old and the New Testaments teach us about the wisdom hidden in small things and humble actions. There is a tendency in every one to invest in a very calculative way in terms of returns. This is the utilitarian philosophy that teaches to use people and things in terms of what we can get out of others. It is a very selfish attitude and unfortunately that is the tone of the day, but contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus.

The story of the poor widow described in the Book of Kings is also inspiring. Elijah was escaping from the powerful and rich king of Israel, who was persecuting him, and now here he is in a pagan country by God’s direct order. Elijah tells the widow that God of Israel will not let her flour and oil run out. The widow of Zarepthath trusted in God, listening to Prophet Elijah’s words. She baked bread for the Prophet with the handful of flour intended for her last meal with her son at the verge of starvation death. Because of her kindness and generosity to the hungry Prophet, God did not let her jar of flour and jug of oil go empty. They were always supplying miraculously until the season of drought was over.

In the gospel Jesus compared the attitude of the scribes with that of the poor widow, which was bound to provoke controversy. Some people perform acts of worship in the hope of gaining privilege or advantage in the community. This poor woman gave to God all she had to live on. They give in the hope of receiving. She simply gives, and gives totally. They expect to receive more than they give. She places everything she has in God’s hands. Jesus comments to his disciples on both, and proposes the anonymous widow to them as a model for their imitation.

Jesus wanted to teach the people a lesson on the miserly behavior of the scribes, but he could not overlook the detached attitude of the widow. Those who think they need God to give them status in the sight of others, who honor God in order to be honored by others, who seek God because they want others to seek them, do not deserve God. God cannot be made a pretext for accumulating honor and privilege, but the temptation is always there, especially among those who honor God most. We lose the respect we owe him when we respect him only to win the respect of others, when secretly we want to obtain for ourselves the honor we give to God. In our relationship with God, we need to be more sincere, because this is the only way we can be sure we will not become like the scribes whom Jesus criticized.

The message contained in the readings today challenges us to examine our generosity towards God and our attitude towards the poor. Usually our admiration goes to who people in the limelight of name and fame. We ourselves desire to be like them. Jesus would remind us that we have lost the proper perspective to look at reality and its genuine values. From the view point of Jesus the human values of selfless love, kindness and generosity are found among the poor and the marginalized of society who utterly depend on God and his provisions.

The story of the widow is only the culmination in a series of people in the Gospels who abandon their false securities in the presence of God:

• The Magi open their treasures and humbly prostrate before the baby in whom they have seen the presence of God (Mt. 2:1-11);
• The disciples when called by Jesus leave their boats, hired men and even their father and follow Jesus (Mk. 1:20, also Mt. 4:22);
• When Mathew the tax collector encounters Jesus he is ready to leave his table and follow Jesus (Lk. 5:27-28);
• Zacchaeus is willing to give half of his property to the poor (Lk. 19:9);
• Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, leaves his upper garment and comes to Jesus in a symbolic nakedness (Mk 10:50); and,
• The Samaritan woman after her encounter with Jesus leaves her empty water jar at the feet of Jesus in a symbolic abandonment of her past (Jn. 4:28).

A question that we can all ask ourselves then is: what is it that I am still holding on to – that prevents me from totally surrendering myself to God?
Luke 6, 35-38 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not you will not be condemned; give and it will be given back to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

We need to accept Christ’s criteria of judging people: We often judge people by what they possess. We give weight to their position in society, to their educational qualifications, or to their celebrity status. But Jesus measures us in a totally different way – on the basis of our inner motives and the intentions hidden behind our actions. He evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to His holy will. The offering God wants from us is not our material possessions, but our hearts and lives. What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses. Let us, like the poor widow, find the courage to share the wealth and talents we hold. Let us stop dribbling out our stores of love, selflessness, sacrifice, and compassion and dare to pour out our whole heart, our whole being, our “whole life” into the love-starved coffers of this world.

The Eucharist gives us the perfect model of self-gift in love. It should continually inspire us to live our daily lives with trust in God and commitment in service to our fellow human beings.

31st Sunday (B)

The command in the Book of Deuteronomy, which we heard in our first reading today, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, (Deut 6:4-6) and repeated by Jesus in the Gospel (Mark 12:29-30), is what we want to do when we see what God has done for us and how God loves us. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is the only response to God who loves us so much. These words commonly known as the Shema (hear) are at the heart of Jewish piety. Elegant in their simplicity and powerful in their wisdom, they direct the believer to a proper relationship with God. Jesus preserves this commandment and adds love of neighbor and self to it. It is usually written on the doors, which could be seen always and on leather parchments to be kept safely with the persons as a constant reminder.
1.Loving God with all your heart means knowing Jesus and having a deep committed relationship with Him.
Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by ME. If you had known Me; you would have known My Father also; henceforth you know Him and have seen Him.” When you come in relationship with Jesus everyday, you come in relationship with the Father also everyday. Then the unconditional love of God is poured into your hearts as said in Romans 5:5 says God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This unconditional love of God helps us to forgive our own selves and others, heals our hurts emotionally so that we can unconditionally forgive and love our neighbor. As you grow deeper in relationship with Jesus; your love for Him and dependence on Him will be more. Your dependence on Him and in His Word shows your total and unconditional response towards Him.

2. Loving God with all your mind means obeying all His commands.
Jesus said if you love Me you would obey my commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. (Jn. 14:15-16). Open your heart to hear the Word of God and obey them. You can love God 100% only when you read the Word and obey from your hearts. The ‘IF’ is a condition, so if you love Him; obey His Word, so that Jesus will ask the Father and send the Holy Spirit to you. The Holy Spirit is not in everyone.Jn.14: 17 say the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit. Those who do not live in the Word of God can only live according to the standard of the world, they neither sees Him nor knows Him. Jesus is speaking this to the disciples who knows Him and loves Him by obeying His word so they have the Holy Spirit as said in Jn.14: 17-18. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you”. Jesus at the right hand of God will ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit to control our lives only when we love Jesus and obey His commands.
Obeying all His commands lead us to love Him with all our mind and to stay in His will, for the Word of God renews our minds. Romans 12: 2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. “As your mind gets renewed each day through the Word of God, revelation knowledge of God, and understanding of your identity in Christ will be reveled more and more to love Him with all your mind.

3. Loving God with all your soul means building your life in the Word.
Jesus said in Math.7: 24-27 “Everyone then who hears these Words of mine and does them will be like a wise man, who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Only if you obey the Word, you will become like a wise man, then no matter what storms come in your life, your soul which consist of your emotions, will and mind keeps you healthy to live a victorious Christian life in every situation because your life built according to the Word. This wisdom that we receive through the Word of God, leads us to love Him with all our soul. So beware of building your life according to the wisdom of this world for God says in 1 Cor. 3:19 ” For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight…..”
Why did Jesus say those who hear and obey the Word are like a wise man who built His house the on rock?
The rock signify Jesus, the rock is created by God and it is very strong, compared to the brick created by man which can be broken easily. Jesus is the rock of God and the name rock describes the essence of stability and reliability of God and this title stresses the permanent unchanging nature of God also the dependence and faith through which man can lean on to Him. We see the name ‘Rock’ used for Jesus many times in the Bible. Jesus is Word of God, (seeRev.19: 13, Jn.1: 1; 14.) So Jesus is the Rock, the Word of God that we must hear and obey to build our lives on the chief corner stone that is Jesus (Eph.2: 20).

The Word of God builds your life only if you receive the Word into your heart and obey them. Paul when he left Ephesians he committed the people in that church to God and to the Word. Acts 20:32 “now I commit you to God and to the Word of grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”.
When I do not love the Lord with all my heart by obeying His Word as said in Jn. 14:23, and when I become stiff necked, stubborn and disobedient to the
Word of God with an uncircumcised heart. Holy Spirit is Resisted Acts 7: 51

Let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind; for this is the first and great commandment. Then we will have the unconditional love of God to love our neighbor. All the other commandments come inside these two commands and His commands are not burdensome.1 John 5:3 “For this is the love for God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” Because the Holy Spirit helps those who obey His Word, Acts 5:32 “And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. Let us make sure that we obey His Word to enter the promise land (heaven). The Word of God can be sent only to those who humbly receive it and God looks at those people. Isaiah 66:2,5 says ” But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word”.