Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christ the King - homily 11-22-2015

Christ the King – Solemnity        homily:  Fr. Bill Bowling             November 22, 2015
Daniel 7:13-14                 Psalm 93               Rev. 1:5-8              John 18:33-37

Today’s liturgy, the Solemnity of Christ the King, is the Sunday where we complete the liturgical year.  And in the end of the liturgical year, indeed the end of all things, what we celebrate is that Jesus is Lord of all.  To celebrate this truth we have listened to the 18th chapter of the gospel of John.  Verses 33-37.  The conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate.

Here Pilate asked Jesus point blank.  “Are you the King of the Jews?”  And so Jesus explained to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world.  Pilate did not understand.  But Jesus concluded his explanation with something very curious which I want repeat for all to hear.  Jesus said this: 

“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. 
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Jesus’ mission is to testify to the truth - the truth of His love for us and his plan of salvation for us. 

Jesus the Messiah was foretold in all of sacred scripture.  He was the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets.  His life, death, and resurrection, is total fulfillment of Sacred Scripture.  Throughout sacred scripture, Jesus gives testimony to the truth.

Jesus, the Bread that Came Down from Heaven, inaugurated a New Covenant by his death and resurrection.  The New Covenant between God and Man has seven signs – that is to say, seven sacraments.  Seven seals by which God’s holy people are saved by Grace.  Throughout Sacred Tradition celebrated by the church, Jesus gives testimony to the truth.

Jesus, who is the head of the church, provided leaders for the church through the apostles and their successors.  These were and are the ones called by him to proclaim the truths that he gave to us.  Jesus speaks through this teaching authority of the church, the apostles and their successors, to give testimony to the truth.

We have three sure witnesses to the truth that Jesus speaks about in his gospel.  Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Teaching Authority of the Church.  Always remember this.  When doubts come about our own faith, remember these three witnesses.  They are like three strong pillars supporting one another.  When we depend upon these three witnesses given to us by Christ, then we will never waver.

Jesus said that “everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Now, here is something important for us to remember.  If Jesus says that there are people who listen to his voice, then that means that Jesus wants to speak to each of us.  And we all need to be equipped to really listen to the voice of Jesus.  And how do we do that?
Well, first of all – to listen to the voice of Jesus is to really hear what Jesus has already said.  Jesus has spoken to us in sacred scripture.  Jesus has spoken to us in sacred tradition.  And Jesus has spoken to us through the teaching of the Church.  May each of us make a commitment to reading the bible.  May each of us commit to reading the teaching of the church.  Reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great way to start.  And may each of us commit to regular practice of the traditions of the church, particularly prayer and the sacraments.

And secondly – to listen to the voice of Jesus is to really hear what Jesus is saying to the church today.  And while there is much that can be said about listening to the voice of Jesus speaking to us today, let’s pick one thing to focus on right now – the Mass.   Jesus wants to speak clearly to us through the Mass.

But it’s hard to really listen.  And so we come up with excuses about why we can’t.  So people say things like: The Mass is too long, we should get out of here in less than an hour.  Or Father talks too fast, I don’t understand.  OR he preaches too long.  Or the music is too slow.  Or the music is too fast.  Or the person next to me is a grouch – they’re all hypocrites.  Or there was a kid running down the aisle throwing cheerios.  Or the church is too cold.  Or the church is too hot.  Etc.  We all can come up with excuses till the cows come home.  But in the end the only way to truly listen to Jesus is this: – that our souls are so united with Jesus that none of these things matter.  And when we are that committed, then the time will come when we will see the glory of Jesus revealed at Mass, and our tired excuses fade away into irrelevance.  The fact of the matter is, Jesus desires with all his heart to speak personally to each of us.  Do we desire to listen?

And so here is an encouragement and a challenge.  Let’s commit ourselves in this next liturgical year to focus on truly listening to the voice of Jesus.  How?
1.  Ask Jesus to open our ears to hear what he is saying.  Before every Mass ask Jesus to send his Holy Spirit to open our ears to hear his words.  And since we know that he really wants to speak to us, this is an easy prayer to have answered.  Step #1.  Ask Jesus.

2.  come to Mass expecting to hear something.  Jesus will speak.  Maybe in one of the scriptures.  Or one of the prayers.  Or a song.  Or a homily.  Or in the silence.  Jesus will speak.  Perhaps with words.  Perhaps with a vision.  Perhaps with an inspired idea.  Jesus will speak, if the ears of our hearts are opened.  Step two – expect in faith to hear something.

3.  Write down the inspiration.  Seriously, start a spiritual journal.  Bring it to Mass – that’s perfectly ok.  Write down those inspirations every week.  Over time, we will be amazed at how Jesus is truly speaking to our hearts at Mass.  So step #3 – since the voice of Jesus is truly important, write down the inspiration.

When we truly listen to Jesus speaking to us in the Mass, then these words of his will be fulfilled in our own hearing.  For Jesus said, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

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