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Monthly Archives: November 2021

Christ the King Sunday

Daniel 7: 13-14 + Psalm 93: 1-2,5 + Revelation 1: 5-8 + John 18: 33-37
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: November 21, 2021

The reason the Son of God comes into this world
is to testify to the truth of divine love.
The reason the Son of God is born of Mary, lives and dies,
is to reveal the truth of divine love over and over and over again.

Jesus’ sole reason for being is to testify to the truth that God is love
and that those who abide in love, abide in God and God in them.
Those who belong to this truth, who acknowledge this truth, are able to hear
his voice, while the Pilates of this world scoff at the notion that God is love.
By his words and his deeds, Jesus reveals that forgiveness and mercy are
the most normal and powerful ways that God loves us.

Jesus lives and dies to reveal the truest, deepest identity of every human being—that each person is a child of God, created out of love and made for love.
Therefore, Jesus comes to establish a “Kin-dom” where we all can live together
as brothers and sisters of one family rooted in God.

You heard me right when I said “Kin-dom” and not “kingdom”.
I believe we have to find new words to express more fully the radical reality
Jesus initiates by his life, death, and resurrection.
After all, our nation was formed by rejecting the whole idea of allegiance to a king. In addition, many people are like Pilate in their desire to impose on Jesus
their idea of what he should be as king and what his kingdom should look like, especially regarding who is in and who is out.
Those values are often directly opposed to the truth Jesus reveals
about God’s persistent, never-go-away love affair with humanity.

Jesus testifies to the truth that God Our Father created us out of love
and made us to receive and share love.
As the Son of God who comes to save us who have turned away from God’s love, Jesus witnesses to truth that God will even give His life for us to bring us home.
The Spirit of love uniting Father and Son has been poured out onto this world and into the hearts of believers, the Spirit whose love unites us as brothers and sisters of the Son, sons and daughters of the Father, one family in God.

In order to live always from the truth of God’s love for us, we have to acknowledge that sometimes we live by the lies of the kingdom of this World, instead of living from the truth of Jesus’ Kin-dom.
We need to expose these lies of the kingdom of the world
and embrace more fully the truths of Jesus’ Kin-dom.

Too many people today seek to have power over others, like Pilate.
Too many place all their hopes in the big lie that political power
will bring meaning to life, as one’s political party then takes the place of God
as the most important thing in life.
Then anything which challenges the values of the power of one’s party is rejected, even if those values are based in the Kin-dom of God.
Those ensnared in this lie place their value, their innate God-given value,
into the hands of their political party.

In the Kin-dom of Christ, being “over” others, being the ones in “power”,
is not the goal of life on this earth. Rather, being of service to others is.
What members of the “Kin-dom” give witness to by their lives of humble service is the truth that washing feet, loving the lowly and discarded of this world,
is the way to go deeper into God’s heart and into the heart of happiness.

The kingdom of this world pushes the lie that wealth is where it’s at,
that seeking to have more and more money and more and more things
is the way to happiness.
But for those who live by this lie, enough is never enough.
There is an insatiable hunger for more and more and more,
which can never be satisfied.

In the “Kin-dom” which Jesus establishes, the human person
is always more important than things, the God-given dignity of the human being can never be subjugated to the “almighty dollar”,
profit cannot take precedence over the person.
The dad who values things more than people will be furious with his son
who wrecked his dad’s car and will allow his anger to fester and grow, while
the dad who testifies to the truth that people are more important than things
will be more relieved than upset because his son survived the accident.

Those who serve the kingdom of this world place a high value on honor—
they seek to be liked, approved of, esteemed by others.

They place their value into the hands of others,
their value is found in what others think of them.

The truth Jesus reveals is that are identity comes not from what we do
or what others think about us, but from who we are as God’s adopted children.
So those who are citizens of the “Kin-dom” of God do not fear being hated or persecuted by others for doing the right thing, because they know who they are.

The kingdom of this world values pleasure
and promotes the vain pursuit of pleasure.
Those who seek only to “feel good” take care of their basest desires
at the expense of others.
Or worse, they use others as objects for their pleasure.
Thus, the scourge of pornography and its hold on human hearts today.

In the ‘Kin-dom” of God, sacrificial love is the way to happiness.
Any pleasure, any joy, is simply a by-product of living one’s life for others,
of giving one’s life away in love of others.
This kind of loving is not “feel good” loving but a decision to treat the other
with respect and kindness even when we do not feel like doing so.

The kingdom of this world promotes the lie that the pursuit of power, wealth, honor and pleasure will being happiness and meaning to one’s life.
For those who are members of the “Kin-dom” of God, the truth is that service, generosity, humility, and sacrificial love lead to true joy.

When we reach out to the least, the last, and the lost, we reveal God’s love strengthening the “Kin-dom”.
When we welcome the stranger, we show that Christ rules our hearts.
When we transform unjust systems, when we oppose anything which belittles
the dignity of the human person or tries to destroy human life, Christ’s rule becomes more evident.

The Holy Spirit within us and among us keeps prodding us
to enlarge the circle of love, to include more and more people within our care.
The love that we know in Christ also extends beyond human communities;
it embraces all beings on earth, our other-than-human kin.
We all share a common home which we are called to love without reserve,
to care for and protect as if our very lives depended on it, for they do.

The victory of love has already been won by Christ Jesus
from the throne of the cross.
We live in an in-between time, in the “now” of Christ’s victory
and the “not-yet” of the fullness of his reign.
But we are able to persevere in loving God, loving neighbor,
loving all God’s creatures and the earth God has created,
because we know that Christ will eventually rule over all,
that love cannot be destroyed, that life in God is what lasts.

From the throne of the cross, Jesus rules over the entire world.
He stretches out his arms to embrace all people of all places and all times,
sinners and saints, the just and the unjust,
in a never-ending embrace of love.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Daniel 12: 1-3 + Psalm 16: 5, 8-11 + Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18 + Mark 13: 24-32
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: November 14, 2021

Too many Christians take passages like this one from Mark’ Gospel
and look for signs pointing to the end of the world.
But that’s not what these words of Jesus are about at all.
In Mark, Jesus clearly states that no one knows the day nor the hour
of the end of the world—only the Father.

Too many Christians today are drowning in apathy, thinking that all the events
turning their world upside down mean the world is ending,
so they throw up their hands and do nothing.

But that is not the point of this gospel passage.
Rather, what Jesus is teaching his followers is the enduring truth
that when our own “little worlds” seem to be ending,
this is just the beginning of something new.

That is why the parable of the fig tree is the central point of this gospel passage.
Jesus encourages his disciples, in the midst of the tragedies and upheavals of life,
to look for signs of new life.
There, in those budding signs of new life, they will find Him near, coming to them.

This is not a “doom and gloom” gospel, for the focus is not on the pain that is part of life on this earth, but about what the Lord of life is doing in the midst of “death”
to bring about new life.
The focus is not on all the losses we experience in life, but on what the Lord of Light
is doing in the midst of darkness to renew our lives.

It is important to note when these words in Mark’s Gospel are spoken by Jesus.
Jesus speaks them two days before Passover,
two days from what we Christians call, “The Last Supper.”
Jesus is only 3 days from being tortured and killed on the cross,
from his world as he knows it coming to an end.
On that Good Friday the sun will be darkened, the earth will shake,
and Jesus’ followers who witness this spectacle on Calvary
will be tempted to think their world has come to an end.

But this ending is just the beginning of resurrected life for Jesus, just the beginning
for his followers who will share in new life with Jesus by the gift of His Spirit.
On the cross, Jesus makes the one perfect sacrifice of love which transforms
all sorrow into joy, all suffering into glory, all dying into new life.

On tree of the cross, Jesus experiences excruciating physical pain.
When we experience bodily pain consuming every waking minute and disturbs our sleep,
putting an end to our world as we had known it,
Jesus not only understands, he is with us in it.

Jesus also plunges into the darkness of searing emotional pain, as his heart is broken
by the betrayal of a close friend, by another close friend denying him,
and others who had been close to him scattering in fear and abandoning him.
When we taste heartbreak, when our family members and friends and others
wound our heart, when we feel like we are all alone and no one understands, Jesus does.
And he carries us through this experience of “dying” into new life.

Jesus, fully human like you and me, enters into the greatness darkness we encounter, when we feel abandoned not just by others, but by God.
On the cross in Mark’s Gospel he cries out,
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
When we feel like God has abandoned us, as if the sun has stopped shining,
the stars have fallen from the sky, the moon no longer gives forth any light—
when we feel this kind of complete darkness, it is even there that Jesus is with us, assuring us that even though we feel as he did on the cross,
that God the Father will never ever abandon his children.

By his one perfect sacrifice of love, Jesus will destroy
that which seems to end everything, death itself, doing what we cannot do for ourselves.

By his one perfect sacrifice of love, Jesus assures us that he is with us in all things,
even in the darkness of pain, distress, suffering, and even death itself.
Jesus experiences everything we fear most—
physical suffering, heartbreak, feeling God’s absence—
in order that everything which seems like the end
can be a new beginning for us with Him!

Those who know Christ’s power to bring life out of death are “fig-tree disciples.”
Those who move forward through what seems like the end with hope of a new beginning, producing fruit for the salvation of the world, are “fig-tree disciples.”

We are invited by the Crucified One now Risen to look and see the signs of new life
in the midst of what seems like death.
To use the eyes of faith to notice fig-tree disciples all around us.

When fig-tree disciples encounter physical pain and bodily suffering,
they turn to the Lord for strength.
These disciples are not crushed by tragedy, but live in hope.

These kind of disciples do not view handicaps as a hindrance to living life fully,
but rise above their limitations with Jesus’ help and seize opportunities
to enrich the lives of others.

These kind of disciples trust in God’s goodness even amidst the disappointments of life.
When their hearts are broken, they continue to take the risk of loving again
with Christ’s help.
When they feel abandoned by God, they trust with Jesus’ help that God is still with them.

Fig-tree disciples confront centuries old “isms”, like racism and sexism and other “isms,” in order to uphold the God-given dignity of every person, the sacred gift of each life.
In doing so, they usher out the old world and bring in a new world.

Fig-tree disciples move forward each day with confidence and courage
that the Lord Jesus by the power of His Spirit is with them bringing new life out of death and transforming every ending into a new beginning.
Disciples of the One who brought forth new life from the tree of the cross
do the small daily deeds of sacrificial love hidden from the headlines,
knowing that Christ can bring much fruit from these acts of love.

We who follow the Crucified and Risen Lord are active in hope, tireless in love, and persevere in faith.
Jesus was being held in the Father’s hands on the cross.
So we know this truth, that Jesus from the tree of the cross has taught us, that God our Father holds the whole world in his hands and will never let it go.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi