What kind of king is Jesus?

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year B: Nov. 25, 2012
Dan 7:13-14; Ps 93; Rev 1:5-8; John 18:33-37

In our Gospel reading today, it is the morning of Good Friday. Jesus had been captured and questioned during the night by the Jewish authorities—but, because they are not authorized to carry out the death penalty, they have brought him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, seeking his execution. And so we hear Pilate’s initial questioning of Jesus.

He begins by asking, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And do you notice that Jesus does not answer this question directly? Instead, he asks Pilate a question: “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Who is questioning, and who is being questioned, has been reversed. Now it is Jesus examining Pilate: his heart, his thoughts, his intentions, his identity. How ready is Pilate to accept Jesus as king? (more…)

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Ascension of the Lord: Christ kicks it up a notch

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Ascension of the Lord, Year B: May 20, 2012
Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47; Eph 4:1-13; Mark 16:15-20

On that first Good Friday, our Lord Jesus suffered, died upon the cross, and was buried. On the third day, that first Easter Sunday, he rose from the dead, his body transformed, the firstfruits of the Resurrection. For the next 40 days, he appeared often to his disciples, teaching them about the Kingdom of God. And then, as we heard in our first reading and our Gospel reading, he ascended into heaven.

Today we celebrate our Lord’s Ascension; and so, we might say, we celebrate his retirement. His work has been accomplished; his earthly life is done; and so it’s time to go back home and sit down and relax. It’s time to retire.

No! Christ’s Ascension was not retirement! (more…)

The importance of religious liberty

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President’s Day: Feb. 20, 2012
Acts 5:27-32, 40-42; Ps 2; Matt 22:15-21

Today our country celebrates the birthday of its first President, George Washington. And Washington is hard to pin down, religiously. (What follows is summarized from Stephen Waldman, Founding Faith, especially chap. 6 and 7.) He certainly manifested faith in God in his words and actions; he was comfortable speaking of faith in general terms, and in encouraging others to pray for help or in thanksgiving; and he considered religious devotion something valuable in citizens in a republic.

And yet it is hard to identify Washington as a strong Christian, since his religious practice was spotty and he declined to enter into thinking or disputing about theological doctrine. (more…)

One in Christ

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10th in a series of short homilies on the Mass

The Second Vatican Council observed that the world longs for unity—and yet we always find different forces and divisions that drive people apart. How can this unity ever be achieved? The Council wrote:

God… does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness. (Lumen gentium, 9)

And the Church that Christ calls and forms becomes “a lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race.” A seed: small, but containing within itself that unity; and, as it draws persons into it, bringing them that unity that they long for.

(more…)

Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice

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7th in a series of short homilies on the Mass

We have seen, in this series of homilies, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal high priest, who offered himself as the one perfect sacrifice to the Father. And he instituted the Eucharist to make himself truly present to us in his sacrifice: the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross contained and offered in an unbloody manner in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass (Council of Trent, cited in CCC 1367). In this way, we are able to offer to the Father a gift, a sacrifice, that far surpasses any other sacrifice we could ever offer—a gift infinitely pleasing to him.

But that’s not all. It is not only Christ that we offer in the Mass; it is also ourselves, his faithful. (more…)

Cristo, el Rey que hemos esperado

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Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Rey del Universo, Año A:
20 Noviembre 2011

Ez 34, 11-12.15-17; Sal 22; 1 Cor 15, 20-26.28; Mt 25, 31-46

Cada año, la Iglesia nos da la Solemnidad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Rey del Universo, como el último domingo del año litúrgico. Y es conveniente, como escribió el Papa Pio XI (undécimo) cuando la instituyó en el año 1925, “pues así sucederá que los misterios de la vida de Cristo, conmemorados en el transcurso del año, terminen y reciban coronamiento en esta solemnidad.” (Quas primas, 31)

Y también, por instituir esta fiesta, esperó cambiar algo que estaba sucediendo en su tiempo—que mucha gente excluía a Cristo y su ley de la vida pública y la vida privada—que también pasa actualmente. (more…)

Christ the King: If these are the rules of life, then play the game to win!

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Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Year A: Nov. 20, 2011
Ezek 34:11-12, 15-17; Ps 23; 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28; Matt 25:31-46

Think for a moment of some examples of competitive games that are based upon life itself.

  • You might think of the board game The Game of Life, in which you drive your little plastic car around the board, spinning the wheel and making choices about education, career, family, and retirement.
  • Or you might think of computer strategy games like Civilization or Age of Empires, in which, on a much larger scale, you guide the development of an entire society, making choices about farming, industry, the military, and cultural development.
  • Or you might think of any of the plethora of reality television shows (more…)

¿Qué resultados espera el Señor de ti?

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XXXIII Domingo Ordinario, Año A: 13 Noviembre 2011
Pr 31, 10-13.19-20.30-31; Sal 127; 1 Tes 5, 1-6; Mt 25, 14-30

Nuestro Señor nos cuenta una parábola situada en un entorno que conocemos bien: un entorno de negocios. Un entorno en el cual tenemos la expectación que los empleados usarán bien sus talentos, sus virtudes, sus experiencias, y todos los recursos a los cuales tienen acceso—que usarán todo esto y más, para alcanzar los objetivos del negocio—para lograr individualmente, y para que, por su logro personal, el negocio también logre.

Conocemos este entorno bien, ¿no? Todos los adultos aquí lo han vivido; y todos los jóvenes han sido enseñado que el mundo funciona así, y que tendrán que estar listos para funcionar bien en esta sistema. Y por eso ustedes siempre se preguntan: (more…)

A veces Cristo nos llama a seguirlo dentro de la tempestad

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XIX Domingo Ordinario, Año A: 7 Agosto 2011
1 Re 19, 9. 11-13; Sal 84; Rom 9, 1-5; Mt 14, 22-33

Muchas veces pedimos en la oración, ¿no?, que seamos preservados de las tempestades de la vida. Que nosotros y los que amamos vivan libres del dolor, de las dificultades, del peligro, del cambio.

Pero lo que vemos en las lecturas del hoy es que, en los casos de estos tres santos, no se permitió que permanecieran en sus situaciones cómodas y seguras; sino que fueron dirigidos y llamados a unas sendas del cambio y de la dificultad. (more…)

The world, the flesh, and the freedom of the easy yoke of Christ

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: July 2-3, 2011
Zech 9:9-10; Ps 145; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Matt 11:25-30

The desires we feel in our bodies are not always good for our bodies. The desires that we feel in our flesh are not always good for our flesh.

We know that this is true from our own experience, if we think of our hunger for food. Our bodies need food to grow and to survive. But the problem is that sometimes we want to eat things that are not good for us. Or maybe we want food that is good for us, but we want too much of it; or too little of it; or we want it at the wrong times.

We know this. There is an entire weight-loss, dieting industry that is built upon the fact that the desires of our flesh will sometimes lead us in ways that are not good, not healthy, for the flesh itself. (more…)