“…so that God may be all in all…“
1 Corinthians 15:28
My Dear Friends in Christ,
Christ has been raised from the dead…so too in Christ shall all be brought to life… each one in proper order…then comes the end, when…[Christ] hands over the kingdom to his God and Father…destroying every [other] sovereignty, authority and power…Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, destroying even death…so that God may be all in all.
Today, we celebrate with the Church around the world, the Feast of Christ the King. We close the liturgical year focusing on Christ as King of Creation and Ruler of the Universe. This isn’t about crowns nor the power and wealth they represent, not about conquering enemies, sheer will, clever schemes, blind obedience, or brute force. This Feast is about the Cross; it’s about sacrifice. Oh…and victory. It’s about Christ being ALL IN, giving Himself completely and freely, a gift culminating in but not limited to his death on the Cross. This feast is about the ultimate victory St. Paul described, the ultimate power of the love of God dwelling in Jesus Christ and our sharing that victory by bringing people to Christ. That’s the ultimate victory and it comes through the gracious invitation of God through Jesus Christ: Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at understanding stewardship as building our relationship with God, increasing our trust, allowing God to move our hearts by sharing our treasure. Sharing our treasure, building our trust in God, serving others, supporting a community that seeks to help others Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples, blesses the one who gives as well as the one who benefits from the gift.
God returns to us far more than what we give, but there’s far more to our stewardship than the sacrifice we make and the increased blessing it brings for us. You see, God uses our stewardship, our trust in Him to help others, to change lives by introducing and increasing the presence of Jesus. God takes our offering, our sacrifice and multiplies it for the good of another.
Remember when Jesus fed the 5,000? It started with a boy offering five loaves and two fish. Even as the Apostles were asking “What good is that for so many?” Jesus was taking what the child offered, blessing it, breaking it and distributing it to the people. And there was enough, more than enough, enough for everyone to fill have their tummy, enough for 12 wicker baskets left over and, truth be told, if there were people like my mother, enough for a little leftover in their purse! This is the abundance of God, the abundance God wants to shower upon us, like the shepherd, as we heard in our first reading, caring for the sheep, especially the lost and the wandering, the sick and the broken. Our trust in God, our sacrifice for God, our generosity creates blessings for others as well. God takes our offering and helps change the lives of others.
We want to share with you that Good News about lives changed, people coming to know Jesus Christ through your generosity, sharing in the victory we celebrate today. That victory, the presence of God, of God’s love made known in Jesus Christ, of Christ the King, the victory that the abundance God’s love creates in the life of another, that’s the victory we want to share with you. And it happens once heart, one soul, one life at a time.
I want to show you a video of stories that help you to understand what your generosity makes possible (You can view the videos on our You Tube page at https://youtu.be/KZ8HM8EO3gM).
Thanks, to Chad and Liz, Jordan and Alex, to Max, to Haley, to Ryan and his Mom, Deirdre, for sharing their stories. It’s not easy to do, makes us vulnerable but I am grateful because your example reminds us that stewardship is not just theory, not just a private thing between me and God. Our stewardship is about growing the presence of Christ, about helping God become more prominent, more helpful in the life of another. That’s what being a disciple is, learning to recognize and trust in the presence of God, realizing how God is calling me, realizing that I don’t serve just in Church, not just my own, but as we hear in our Gospel today, serving those who are poor, hungry, naked, imprisoned, lost or distant.
It’s about helping these whom the world considers least to know and revel in the presence of God made known in our service, made known through us. I want to thank you for your generosity. Your trust in God, your sharing of your resources makes possible our efforts to celebrate the victory of Jesus Christ, God’s love made known in ourselves and, through us, to others, to celebrate bringing God’s love in Jesus Christ to others, celebrating changed lives.
This is especially true as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. Yes, it will be different as many of us celebrate without the family and friends we are used to seeing. My own family, (pictured on Thanksgiving a few years ago (2005?) at the house of my older my brother and his wife) will not be getting together this year. But we will have our weekly Zoom call to catch up on each other (plus it gives me a chance to tease them!). Even without all of the usual trappings, we still have very much to be thankful for, though. We look to remember God’s many, many blessings. Amidst all of the food preparation, football games and early Black Friday on-line shopping, set aside some time to pray and to list your blessings. I don’t know about you but sometimes, especially when I’m challenged by the way things are or what I don’t have, I forget about the many other blessings I have received. It helps me to make a list, sometimes only in my head but other times I drag out the ole’ pen and paper to make that list. Also, take some time to pray for those we consider blessings (even if they are only blessings in teaching us patience! – but I’m sure that you don’t have any of those in your family!). Pray for those unable to travel, those who are home alone, through who are struggling. Perhaps you are in that group. Then we pray for you as well. And you can do all of this by joining us as we celebrate Mass in the Church on Thanksgiving Day at 9:00 a.m. Celebrate with us.
Also, tomorrow, November 23, we’ll honor Blessed Miguel Pro. Born in Guadalupe, Mexico on January 13, 1891, Miguel Pro Juarez was one of 11 children. Miguel was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in his mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan at the age of 20 and studied in Mexico until 1914 when a tidal wave of governmental anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the order to flee to Los Gates, California. He then taught in Nicaragua from 1919 until 1922.
By the time Fr. Pro was ordained a priest in Enghien, Belgium in 1925, the political situation in Mexico had deteriorated: all Catholic churches were closed, bishops, priests, and religious were rounded up for deportation or imprisonment, and those caught trying to elude capture were shot. The celebration of the sacraments was punishable by imprisonment or death, and the Church was driven underground. Fr. Pro received permission from his superiors to return to Mexico incognito and to carry on his ministry undercover. Fr. Pro slipped into Mexico City and immediately began celebrating Mass and distributing the sacraments, often under imminent threat of discovery by a police force charged with the task of ferreting out hidden pockets of Catholicism. He became known throughout the city as the undercover priest who would show up in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar or a street sweeper to baptize infants, hear confessions, distribute Communion, or perform marriages. Several times, disguised as a policeman, he slipped unnoticed into the police headquarters itself to bring the sacraments to Catholic prisoners before their execution. Using clandestine meeting places, a wardrobe of disguises and coded messages to the underground Catholics, Fr. Pro carried on his priestly work for the Mexican faithful under his care.
A failed attempt in November 1927 to assassinate the President of Mexico which only wounded him provided the state with a pretext for arresting Fr. Pro with his brothers Humberto and Roberto. They were put in jail and held without trial for ten days, accused of the attempted assassination. On July 17, 1928, President Calles ordered Fr. Pro to be executed, ostensibly for his role in the assassination plot, but in reality, for his defiance of the laws banning Catholicism. As Fr. Pro walked from his cell to the prison courtyard, he blessed the firing squad and then knelt and prayed silently for a few moments. Pictured at left, he refused a blindfold, he stood, faced the firing squad, and with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other, he held his arms outstretched in the form of a cross and in a loud, clear voice cried out, “May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, you know I’m innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!” As the soldiers lifted their rifles, he exclaimed in a loud voice, “Viva Cristo Rey!” – “Long live Christ the King!” A volley of shots rang out and Fr. Pro fell to the ground riddled with bullets. A soldier stepped up and discharged his rifle at point blank range into the priest’s temple. Fr. Pro was assassinated to demoralize the Mexican people. The fascist leaders tried to silence him, end his service and excise his example. Their plan backfired, though, as 30,000 people braved possible violence to march in his funeral procession. This massive crowd brought world-wide attention to the situation in Mexico.
Fr. Pro gives us the example of Christ: to share in Christ’s victory and kingship, we must model Christ’s service and sacrifice. Christ has been raised from the dead… so too in Christ shall all be brought to life…each one in proper order…then comes the end, when… [Christ] hands over the kingdom to his God and Father…destroying every [other] sovereignty, authority and power…Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, destroying even death…so that God may be all in all.
Viva Christo Rey! Long live Christ the King!