Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunday word

Christ the King (26 November 2006) Dn 7. 13-14; Ps 93; Rv 1. 5-8; Jn 18. 33b-37
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Truth is Love in Action

We close the liturgical year today by remembering our beloved dead and in doing so “we rededicate ourselves to live our baptismal promises and to gain someday the rewards of eternal life.”/1/ The reason our beloved dead live on and abide with us in a different manner is because of God’s own beloved child, Messiah Jesus. I think that ancient eucharistic description of Messiah Jesus as God’s beloved child helps the Schroeder, Small and Tomolo families appreciate baptizing their children on this feast; and it helps us all appreciate Jesus, our King, and God's action in Christ.

One facet of divine action found throughout scripture may be one we humans, who live comfortable lives, find difficult to accept personally. That action is this: the Holy One turns everything upside down and invites us to surrender ourselves to divine, provident love. In the world of the first Christian generations that was not so difficult to accept because Christians longed for relief, for salvation from being crushed at the bottom of the social world.

An amazing thing about the relationship with the risen Lord is that people who were on top chose to place themselves with him even though that meant losing their status as respected citizens and losing their wealth--and some, even their lives. This they did because they experienced what the Book of Revelation proclaimed, Jesus Christ...loves us. So the reason why our beloved dead abide with us in a different way is because of God’s beloved child, Jesus Christ...who loves us and who has freed us from our sins by his blood.

If you hear only one thing today, please hear this: The First Person of the Trinity did not force the Second Person to suffer and to die. Jesus chose to give his life for our sake. This is not impossible to appreciate: parents die for their children; some spouses die for each other, as do dear friends. On Thanksgiving in New Orleans, neighbors risked dying by running into a burning home to pull out others. No one died, but the risk was real as was the choice of those neighbors to give their lives.

These deeds--those of Jesus and those of others and the readiness of people to die for others--are truth in action. Truth in action, namely the revealing, redeeming action of the Trinity on behalf of each human, is what Jesus defined as royal in his conversation with Pilate.

Pilate thought of a worldly king, as many do today. Jesus corrected the trumped up charge of King by the Jewish leaders: he was no false messiah who threatened the religious professionals of the day. Plus, Jesus was clear that his kingship was not political, of this world, Fourth Gospel language for human society organized on its own unbelieving terms. Messiah Jesus’ kingship, he told Pilate and us, testif[ied] to the truth of divine, redeeming love. That’s the action to which Jesus surrendered his human life.

On returning from visiting sites in Turkey and Greece, places of the world Sts. Paul and John invited to surrender to the truth of Messiah Jesus, our risen Lord and King, I assure you with renewed confidence that Jesus’ truth is much larger than scientific truth and courtroom truth, though opposed to neither. Our royal, messianic, resurrection truth is about surrendering self to another.

Our model is Messiah Jesus, who surrendered his life for all others, which is why our beloved dead abide with us in a different way and why we look forward to joining them and, more than, that look forward to living tomorrow as Christian children, women and men.

Each day this coming week in your 10 minutes, which you set aside to feel Messiah Jesus loving you, praise and thank Jesus for the many ways and the many people through whom Jesus loves you at each moment. Speak to him about his choice to surrender himself to you. As you converse with Christ our King, allow yourself to be moved by so free and marvelous a choice, a gift, a promise to you. Savor what arises in you in your conversation with Messiah Jesus; notice how it shapes a response in you and speak it to Jesus. Close your awareness prayer by asking for the grace to imitate Jesus’ selflessness. Resolve to surrender yourself to that grace and look forward to how you can live the truth of the redeeming action of the Trinity on behalf of another person you will encounter after your royal, priestly prayer. That is Jesus’ royal truth in action.

/1/ Liturgical Notes, Gesu Parish, November 2006--the Solemnity of Christ the King.

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