CHRIST THE KING
…today you will be with me in Paradise.
Our Feast today exalts the supremacy of Christ, not just over a nation, nor even our Church, but over all creation, from the beginning to the end. As Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” If this is the case, why does our world not follow the ways of Christ? One would expect a people to obey their king, or a king to enforce his will on the people. With God there is freedom, freedom to obey or disobey. This is displayed on the cross where we see two thieves, one who blasphemes Christ and another who recognizes Him and repenting, proclaims His kingship by saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
We call this good thief St. Dismas. In three sentences, in the last minute of his life, Dismas is saved from the punishment due to sin. What mercy, what grace! A simple act of humility, honesty really, makes an eternal difference. Have we the same honesty? Are we able to admit our sinfulness? Do we have the knowledge of self necessary to be saved? Jacques Philippe writes in his book, Interior Freedom that “The person God loves with the tenderness of a Father, the person he wants to touch and to transform with His love, is not the person we’d have liked to be or ought to be. It’s the person we are. God doesn’t love ‘ideal persons’ or ‘virtual beings.’ He loves actual, real people.”
Let us follow Dismas by making a true confession of our own inadequacies and proclaim the authority of Christ over our lives. He will not coerce us. His dominion depends on our cooperation and acceptance of His reign. Our age tends to say “Question Authority”, but this is one authority we should never question. If we can accept Christ’s Kingship in our lives, all else will follow. As Jesus said in Matthew, “But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33)
What does it mean to be a member of St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church?
I will continue to elaborate on some basics that should be a part of every parishioner’s life here at St. Stephen’s. While respecting a just diversity in gifts and graces amongst God’s people, we ought to strive to be “…of one heart and mind” like our first apostles and the early Christians. These include some of the basics found in that first community following Pentecost. The Scriptures say that “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) I’ve already mentioned the ‘breaking of the bread’ as the first of our priorities.
John Paul II said in Ecclesia de Eucharistia that “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist.” Parishioners should participate in the Eucharist weekly, and more often than not, at St. Stephen’s. Some float from parish to parish based on Mass times and the length of homilies, etc., never committing to a particular community, never contributing gifts of time and talent beyond their 55 minutes of bodily presence in the building. This is a sad and selfish Christian life. Of course there are exceptions for health concerns, but in general, for those who can, Mass connects us in a way that includes an obligation to ‘the communal life’ mentioned in Acts. Gifts are given for the sake of the Body, the Church. Each believer has been given gifts for the building up of the community. When one receives the Precious Body of Our Lord, eternal life itself, yet refuses to become involved in the parish, what spiritual constipation has occurred?!
Real reception of gifts depends on a giving of gifts as well. A vessel never emptied stagnates and pours out the excess as waste. So what does this ‘communal life’ entail? It entails going beyond ourselves and our natural families to connect outside of Mass in the ministries that help the parish function and fulfill her mission. We have about 88 ministries here at St. Stephen’s. They all contribute to the mission of Christ that we have been given, a mission to make His Kingship known. Together we can make this happen. More than I depend on you, Christ depends on you, to make Him known to ‘the Dismases’ in our own area who do not know the way of Christ: to youths, mothers at risk, to homebound and homeless. The harvest is ripe, grab a sickle and join us.
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