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Lectionary Reflections: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King [a]. November 23, 2014

Engaging Faith | Fri, Nov 14, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King [a]. November 23, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern

 

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King [a]

November 23, 2014

 

Readings

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Matthew 25:31-46

 

Calendar

November 22: Stop the Violence Day

November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 

     (See: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/elimination_vaw/en/index.html)

November 27: Thanksgiving Day (in the US)

November 28: Buy Nothing Day (See: http://adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd/)

November 30: Advent Season begins.

December 1: World AIDS Day

 

Quotes

The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society.    

-US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120

“Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic social teaching. A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring. This is not a new insight; it is the lesson of the parable of the Last Judgment (see Matthew 25). Our tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and the vulnerable first. As Christians, we are called to respond to the needs of all our sisters and brothers, but those with the greatest needs require the greatest response.”

–U.S. Catholic Bishops, A Century of Social Teaching, 6-7

The salvation brought by Christ is continually being offered to us, that it may bear abundant fruits of goodness in keeping with the plan of God who wishes to save all his children, especially those who have gone away from him and are looking for the way back. The Good Shepherd is always going in search of the lost sheep, and when he finds them he puts them on his shoulders and brings them back to the flock. Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!

-John Paul II, Jubilee Message for those in Prisons, 9 July 2000

Today in our situation the authenticity of the people of God goes by way of poverty and justice: they are the touchstone of the truth of the faith that is professed and of the genuineness of life as it is lived out: poverty, which involves incarnating all our efforts and incarnating ourselves in the reality of the oppressed majorities, and that will necessarily entail a voluntary impoverishment and abnegation on the part of those who wield power; justice, which involves giving to the people what belongs to the people and struggling to uproot injustice and exploitation, and to establish a new earth, wherein the life of the new human may be possible.

-Ignacio Ellacuría SJ, martyred in El Salvador in 1989

 

Thoughts for your consideration

The connection between today’s gospel and Catholic Social Teaching seems very obvious and on one level there is nothing to add.  The gospel story reminds us that ultimately, we will be judged by how well we live out the social teaching of Jesus Christ.  We will be judged by whether we have responded to the call to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, welcome the stranger, serve those who are ill, and visit those who are in prison. Social concerns are an essential part of the Christian life.  (When we fall in love with Christ, we want to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters.)

As direct as we might find the story’s message, there is a danger in reading the story in too limited a way.  We might be tempted to limit the story to direct service to those in need.  We must not forget that we are called to work for social change in the structures of our world and for empowerment of those in need. We are called to ask why people are hungry or thirsty or homeless or refugees or without medical care or in prison. We are called to look at 

 

  • the structures that keep people from earning the food they need
  • the policies that keep people in the developing world from a healthy water supply
  • the economic forces that have some people living in substandard homes
  • the government rules that make life hard for refugees and immigrants
  • the failure of some to see basic medical care as a human right for all
  • the challenge of helping those who are unemployed or underemployed
  • the injustices in our criminal justice system.

 

There is also a danger using this story in too simplistic a way. Most people will recognize themselves has being both sheep and goats.  Most people have at some time answered the call to respond to those in need.  Most people at some time have also failed to respond to the call to respond to those in need.  All of us are called to be aware humbly of both realities in our personal life and in the life of culture and our nation.  Otherwise, we might fall into the trap of condemnation and ideology. We might then judge the world in unfair categories of us and them – good people and bad people.  If we do this, we run the risk of simplifying the gospel message and preventing it from having its full power. We would also forget that judgment ultimately belongs to God.  Our awareness of the injustices of our world will empower us to grow and change and be filled with life in solidarity with God and others, “so that God may be all in all.”

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It is the Feast of Christ the King.  One way to understand the “kingship of Jesus Christ” is to look at the images that are offered us in the scriptures.  When the Christ is born it is to a homeless family.  When he travels around as a teacher, he seems to have no permanent home or dwelling and virtually no possessions.  He gathers with the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and even prostitutes. When Jesus enters Jerusalem it is on a donkey (not on a mighty horse or chariot).  In gospels, the “kingly” Jesus is a prisoner of Pilate and will be put to death.  The “kingship” or rule of Christ is not the rule of the powerful overlord. It is the rule of the “suffering servant.”

 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you found yourself to be a “sheep?”  

When have you found yourself to be a “goat?”

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How do you react to the image of Christ as King?

How does this feast challenge us to rethink what it means to lead?

 

Story

THE STORY OF THE RIVER from http://www.greatplainsumc.org/micahcorps 

See also http://fasarizona.com/riverbabies.htm for another version.

Once upon a time there was a small village on the edge of a river. The people there were good and life in the village was good. One day a villager noticed a baby floating down the river. The villager quickly swam out to save the baby from drowning. The next day this same villager noticed two babies in the river. He called for help, and both babies were rescued from the swift waters. And the following day four babies were seen caught in the turbulent current. And then eight, then more, and still more!

The villagers organized themselves quickly, setting up watchtowers and training teams of swimmers who could resist the swift waters and rescue babies. Rescue squads were soon working 24 hours a day. And each day the number of helpless babies floating down the river increased. The villagers organized themselves efficiently. The rescue squads were now snatching many children each day. While not all the babies, now very numerous, could be saved, the villagers felt they were doing well to save as many as they could each day. Indeed, the village priest blessed them in their good work. And life in the village continued on that basis.

One day, however, someone raised the question, "But where are all these babies coming from? Let’s organize a team to head upstream to find out who’s throwing all of these babies into the river in the first place!"

 

Actions - Links

Violence against Women

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (See: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/)  This year, the UNITE Campaign is extending Orange Day to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, starting November 25, International Day to End Violence Against Women, through December 10, Human Rights Day.  In 2002 the US Bishops addressed the issue of domestic violence.  You can find their statement, When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women,  at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/domestic-violence/when-i-call-for-help.cfm  The World Health Organization report WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women can be found at  http://www.who.int/gender/violence/who_multicountry_study/en 

Consumerism

Information about Buy Nothing Day: November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, can be found at http://adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd/  This gives us an alternative perspective to that of “Black Friday” which in the United States is a day to shop.

 

“Crazy Facts”

  • 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
  • It is estimated that up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk from FGM/C, and more than 130 million girls and women have undergone the procedure worldwide.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth.

http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

 

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us to see you in and with our brothers and sisters.

For those who are sick or in prison, we pray….

For those who are hungry or thirsty, we pray….

For those who are homeless, we pray….

For those who have lost jobs, we pray….

For those who are living from paycheck to paycheck, we pray….

For those who live in worry and fear about what they have and don’t have, we pray….

For all those living in relationships marked by violence, we pray….

For all of us that we may keep our values in order and discover how to be grateful, we pray….

 

Thanksgiving Grace

By: Jane Deren at https://educationforjustice.org/resources/thanksgiving-grace 

 

Bless us, O Lord.

And Bless these, thy children,

Who have planted and harvested

And brought us this food.

 

Bless us, O Lord,

And Bless these, thy children,

Who still wait for such abundance

To be brought to them.

 

These brothers and sisters in Christ

Are with us at this table.

 

We are grateful

For the solidarity

That we receive

Through thy bounty.

 

Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

 

Prayer – Meditation

Our God hears the cry of the poor.  A hymn by John Foley SJ

 

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.

 

I will bless Yahweh at all times,

God's praise ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the Lord,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

 

Let the lowly hear and be glad:

Yahweh listens to their pleas;

And to hearts broken God is near,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

 

Every spirit crushed God will save;

Will be ransom for their lives;

Will be safe shelter for their fears,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

 

We proclaim the greatness of God,

God's praise ever in my mouth;

Every face brightened in God light,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

 

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.

 

[Ps. 34/John Foley, SJ]

 

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Ending Domestic Violence

“God of peace, there are many places and many people who do not experience your peace. Right now there are many, many women and children who live under the dark weight of the fear of violence right in their own homes. We pray for your protection, and for wisdom for friends and officials to help bring that right protection to them. We pray for the many men who themselves feel powerless and confused about their relationships. We ask that you would help them find healthy ways to work out their frustrations and to find hope without resorting to destructive impulses. God, work in our country to stem this epidemic. We ask for your perfect peace…”

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/prayerplainandsimple/2009/10/a-prayer-for-domestic-violence.html

 

Images

http://notenoughgood.com/2013/07/violence-against-women-2/

http://www.buynothingday.co.uk/toolkit.html