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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,

KING OF THE UNIVERSE -C- NOV 24, 2019

2 Samuel 5: 1-3; Psalm 122; Colossians 1: 12-20; Luke 23: 35-43

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

PRE-NOTES: Just a reminder: Next week we begins a new liturgical year. We have compiled two "First Impressions" CDs. One is for Year A. The other is for Years A, B, C. These CDs contain THREE reflections for almost all the Sundays and major feasts

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: https://www.preacherexchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions CD’s" link on the left.



Israel had longed for a Messiah, the Christ, one anointed by God to: free the nation, release captives, defend the rights of the poor and initiate a reign of peace and justice that would never end. From the earliest days of Jesus’ preaching and later in the early church, those attracted to Christ were the marginated drawn to the King who, like them, was subjected to the violence of earthly rulers.

How many times, on grand occasions, have we heard Christ’s name invoked at royal weddings, inaugurations of world leaders and in prayers by football teams hoping to win a trophy? Have you ever seen a baseball player make the Sign of the Cross coming up to bat, hoping to hit a game-winning home run? Christ on the side of the royal, the powerful and fit. Well, not on today’s feast!

Do you know the real estate dictum? The three most important things for selling your house are – "location, location, location." Can we borrow that selling point from real estate agents for today’s feast? What’s the "selling point" that draws us to our God? It’s God’s "location." And from what location does our King rule? God has taken flesh and come to our location, to dwell among us, and share fully our human life. Today, Christ’s kingly location is from the cross. That is where we can find God’s "beloved Son." That location tells us everything and is an appealing "selling point" that makes Jesus very approachable and us willing to accept his rule. As Colossians reminds us, Christ is "the image of the invisible God" and God has "transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son." It is the kingdom of one, like us, who rules from the cross.

The cross reveals both the folly of our sin and the toll sin takes on our world – where the innocent suffer cruelly at the hands of the powerful. The cross also reveals God’s profound and undying love for us. Even Jesus’ crucifixion did not turn God away from us. God loves us, even when we do our worse. We have a God who is not indifferent to our suffering, indeed, has entered into our pain and the horror of death for us.

There is a long silence that precedes Jesus’ death and moments when he speaks. He does not speak when the chief priests and people cry out for the murderer Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ death. He does speak to address the wailing women whom he passes on his way to his execution. But he does not plead for mercy from his executioners when they mocked him on the cross. He breaks his silence again when, with royal authority, he assures the good thief on the cross next to him, "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Finally, Jesus cries out, "Father into your hands, I commend my spirit." Silence towards those unjustly judging and executing him; words of compassion towards those in need and in prayer to his loving Father.

Christ the King does not condemn those who murder him; while he passes a judgment of mercy on those who turn to him in sorrow and need. "Location, location, location" – what the gospel shows is that all through his life and right up to his death Christ has taken a place with the suffering, poor, sick, the defeated and the outcast who cry out to God. Christ is "the image of the invisible God," and has shown that his rule is from our location – from the midst of us. In our midst he stays faithful to us, no matter how far we have attempted to go on our own; or how far life has driven us.

With all the power and authority of God in Christ, he chooses not to use power to win subjects. He didn’t choose to use his power to issue orders and impose his ideas and will upon us. That’s the way we humans generally use our power and claim of privilege. Instead, Christ has come to be of service to us. If we are truly the church of Jesus Christ, members of his kingdom, then we too are called to be like him; not to use our power, or standing in society to our own benefit, but to relate to others the way Jesus did.

Today can be a feast of renewal for us and for all Christian churches. Christ our King is not on the side of empowering any earthly kingdom. When the good thief asked Jesus to remember him, he responded in the affirmative. Like the good thief the church is asked to remember Christ and, because he is our King, all the outsiders, downtrodden and imprisoned. Jesus did – and so must we.

Jesus did not bless any earthly power, or declare himself as ruler of any nation.

He tells the good thief he will be "remembered" and be with him in Paradise. That is the King whose rule we accept and to whom we give our primary allegiance. We are called by Christ to, like him, "remember" the least and not surrender our will or thinking to any other state or power. Christ calls us to be with him in his location by remembering all people and stand with those whose human status is threatened. With the good thief we too can be assured that Christ remembers us and welcomes us into his kingdom.

[In memory of the thief executed alongside Jesus, tradition calls him Dismas, why not write a postcard to one of the death row inmates we regularly post below?]

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/112419.cfm

QUOTABLE

The reason why we proclaim Christ as our king is that he taught us what real leadership is all about. The reason why he reigns from a cross is that he never failed to remind the political and religious rulers of his time that they weren’t gods. Christ is a king who is still listening to his subjects and taking their words to heart even as he dies on a cross.

—Robert P. Waznak, S.S. "Like Fresh Bread: Sunday Homilies in the Parish." (New York: Paulist Press, 1993, page 263). ISBN 0-8091-3378-4.

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

He [God the Father] delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Colossians 1: 13

The idea of a kingdom is an interesting concept to ponder. Look around at the kingdoms active in our world and one typically sees great power and wealth; some are headed by people who want the best for their people and some are surrounded by corruption and self-interest. Pope Francis, in a November 20, 2016 homily, writes of Jesus’ kingdom, "the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things." Someone once wrote that Jesus had more of a kingdom than a kingdom in mind, where everyone is meant to be loving siblings to others. What a world that would be! It requires that followers of Jesus’ Way would honor God through compassionate encounter with everyone, even those who may seem very different, even perceived enemies.

Working on the margins of society, we have a good example to emulate in the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, whose annual collection is this weekend. This national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops works to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ "... to bring good news to the poor ... release to captives ... sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free" (Luke 4:18).

The belief that those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them is central to CCHD. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. CCHD offers a hand up, not a hand out. It is a wonderful example of love’s encountering and healing.

As Pope Francis, in his address at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Bolivia, states, "The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change." The vision is a kingdom, God’s kingdom present now.

Please be generous to CCHD and consider making a compassionate encounter to an estranged friend or family member or direct accompaniment to the poor or needy

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

[Jesus replied to the criminal hanging beside him]

"Amen I say to you,

today you will be with me in Paradise."

Reflection:

Perhaps, like the "good thief," we currently look out at the world from our own cross. Can we put faith in the words Jesus speaks to us now, even in the midst of defeat, disappointment or broken dreams? They aren’t mere words, because Christ’s words bring us his promise that even now ("today") we too are assured new life. Can we trust his words?

So we ask ourselves:

  • Even from the weakness of the cross Jesus used his power to give life.
  • What powers do I have?
  • Do I use them as Christ did to serve, comfort, heal and bring life to others?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Chrlette Parker #0311386 (On death row since 4/1/99)
  • Blanche Moore #0288088 (11/16/90)
  • Christian Walters #0626944 (7/6/00)

NC Correctional Institution for Women

1034 Bragg St,

Raleigh, NC 27610

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: http://www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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