Cycle B

Christ the King – November 25, 2018

The Triumph of the Defeated

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

“Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on his head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around his shoulders; and they began coming up to him and saluting him, ‘Hail king of the Jews’ and they struck him on the face” (Jn 19:1-3).

 

How come Jesus does not react as he did when he was struck by the servant of the high priest (Jn 18:23)?

 

The enthronement of a mock-king was a well-known game in antiquity. A prisoner who was to be executed after a few days was clothed in the regalia and treated as an emperor. A cruel mockery put into action against Jesus.

 

In the scene described by John, there are all the elements that characterize the enthronization of an emperor: the crown, the purple cloak, and the acclamation. 

 

It is a parody of kingship and Jesus accepts it because it shows in a more explicit way what his judgment is on the display of power and the pursuit of glory of this world. To aspire to sit on a throne in order to receive honors and bows is for him a farce even though, unfortunately, is the most common and grotesque comedy played by people.

 

In the final stage of the process (Jn 19:12-16), Pilate takes Jesus outside and made him sit down on a high platform. It is midday and the sun is at its zenith when in front of all the people Pilate, pointing to Jesus crowned with thorns and covered with a purple robe, proclaims: “Behold your King.” It’s the time of enthronement; it is the presentation of the ruler of the new kingdom, the kingdom of God.

 

For the Jews, the proposal is so absurd as to be provocative. They furiously react with an indignant rejection: “Take him away, crucify him!” (Jn 19:15). A king like him they don’t even want to see; he disappoints all expectations; it is an insult to common sense.

 

Jesus is there, at the top, for all to contemplate, lit by the sun shining in all its glory; he is silent, does not add a word because he has already explained everything. He waits for everyone to rule and make their choice.

 

One can bet on the greatness, the majesty of this world, or follow him, giving up all goods and preferring defeat for love. The success or failure of a life depends on this choice.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“Who becomes servant of the brothers and sisters reigns with Christ.”

 

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 18, 2018 – Year B

The Stiffer the Winter, the More Fruitful will be the New Season  

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

Scientific and technological progress is registered in the world. Sensitivity to higher values increases, but global injustices, wars, political, economic and social upheavals provoke concerns and dismay. Ideologies considered timeless, are collapsing, certainties are lessening, and political personalities disappear, athletes and movie stars, as soon as the light and cameras that frame them are turned off, fall into oblivion. Everything is called into question. Even dogmas are reread and reinterpreted; certain religious practices that seemed indispensable and irreplaceable turn out to be old and worn; they have had their day and are abandoned.

 

In the face of these upheavals, someone rebels, another resigns, many are discouraged and think that the end of everything, even of faith, has come. How to evaluate these realities? How to deal with more alarming events? How to get involved in the history of the world, with anguish and fear or with commitment and hope?

 

The anxieties, pains, the groans of the dying prelude the imminent death; the pangs of a woman in labor herald the beginning of a new life.

 

Jesus taught us the proper perspective: “When these things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near” (Lk 21:28).

 

In a world that seems doomed to ruin by its own frenzy of violence, the unbelieving looks down to earth and despair convinced that we are approaching the end. The disciple remains stable in the test, raises his head and in every cry of pain perceives the groaning of creation that “suffers the pangs of birth” (Rom 8:22). In everything that happens, he takes a prelude not to death, but to a happy event: the birth of a new humanity.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“The fate of the world is in God’s hands, so I look up.”

 

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 11, 2018 – Year B

How Much is the Kingdom of Heaven Worth?

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

Exhortations to give alms are frequent in the Bible: “The upright man gives without stinting” (Pro 21:26). “Give your bread to those who are hungry, your clothes to those who are naked; give alms of everything you have over” (Tob 4:16).

 

If there is a price to pay to enter the kingdom of heaven, how much would it be? Will it be sufficient to give something in charity?

 

In one of his famous homilies (Hom. In Evangelia 5:1-3), Pope Gregory the Great (590-614) deals with the issue and says, “The Kingdom of God is priceless; its worth all that you have” then he illustrates his claim with examples from the Gospel.

 

In the case of Zacchaeus, the entrance into the kingdom of heaven was paid with “half of the property” he owned, because the other half served to repay four-fold to those he had defrauded (Lk 19:8).

 

In the case of Peter and Andrew, the kingdom of heaven was worth the nets and the boat, because the two brothers had no other (Mt 4:20).

 

The widow bought it for much less: only two mites (Lk 21:2).

Someone enters even by offering only a cup of cold water (Mt 10:42).

 

The price to pay is easy to establish: the Kingdom of God is worth all that you have, little or much that be.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“The Kingdom of God is a treasure that is priceless, to get it you have to give up everything.”

 

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Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – November 9, 2018

 

Introduction

 

Last week the commemoration of All Souls fell on a Sunday. Today the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran happens on a Sunday too. It is the cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. It was built by Constantine and was for centuries the habitual residence of the Popes. Even today, although he lives in the Vatican, the Pope annually presides on Holy Thursday the Eucharist and the washing of the feet in St. John Lateran.

 

This basilica is a symbol of the unity of all Christian communities with Rome. It is called “mother of all the Churches,” and for this reason we celebrate this holiday worldwide. It is a reminder that we are all united by the same faith and that the Church of Rome, the Church of the Apostle Peter, is a fundamental reference point of our faith.

 

Today we may begin the Eucharistic celebration with the sprinkling of water in relation to the theme of water in the first reading. Then we may sing the Creed, the symbol of our faith, which unites us to the Church spread throughout the world, with its center in Rome.

 

Today’s readings show a mosaic of images of what the Church is: water that flows from the temple, the building which is built on Christ, the temple of God, and abode of the Spirit (we are all God’s building). Each of us is the temple, to be defended as a house of prayer (and not changed into a market, as in the scene of the gospel), the Body of Christ, which will be rebuilt on the third day…

 

But we could focus on the first image, the water that should flow from the Church, the community of Jesus, to clean and fill the world with life.

 

Ezekiel sees the water that flows from the temple. Actually, salvation comes from God. But God sacramentally manifests his presence through the Temple. This water runs down the slopes, which sanitizes whatever it encounters along its path. Wherever it passes everything is full of life, fish in abundance, fruit trees with rich crops and medicinal leaves. It’s like going back to the life that the four rivers of Eden gave to paradise. The Apocalypse, in its final page of the story, also returns to present the same view: “He showed me the river of life, gushing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On both sides of the river are the trees of life, the leaves of which are for healing the nations” (Rev 22:1-2).

 

What is this water? The symbolism of this valuable element is very rich. But in the gospel, the water is especially Christ Jesus, as he tells the Samaritan woman at the well, where both had gone to fetch water. Or it is also his Spirit, as on another occasion the evangelist says, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. He was referring to the Spirit which those who believe in him were to receive” (Jn 7:38).

 

God gives to the thirsty and parched mankind the Water of Christ and of the Spirit. Now the visible sign of this grace that comes from God to the world is the Church, the community of Jesus and of the Spirit.

 

To the Israelites and the strangers that came, the Temple of Jerusalem was the required benchmark of the salvation from God and of the worship the believers devote to him. Now that sign should be the Christian community in the world, in a diocese, in a parish.

 

Somehow, the meaning of this life-giving water is as sacramentally condensed into their temples and their liturgy: a church in the middle of town or neighborhood, with its bell tower, as their meeting place and prayer for believers and as a reminder of higher values ​​for others. In these buildings—as we equally call the community “church”—is where the community celebrates the sacrament of Baptism, but also the other sacraments, that the Catechism says that emanates from the living and life-giving Christ (CCC 1116).

 

But above all, it is the community of persons, which must be a credible sign of God’s life, in and out of the celebration. Jesus, through His Church, continues to give His saving water to all mankind. They are “waters that flow from the sanctuary” and should give that “life wherever the current flows.”

 

Does the water that quenches the thirst of the world, the light to illumine its darkness, the balm of hope to cure its wounds, really still flow from the sides of each ecclesial community? Does the church, evangelized and full of the good news, feel and act as evangelizer, communicator of water, of hope, of life? Can she call herself “light of the nations”, salt, ferment and source of hope for society? Does she display interior unity—around the “cathedral of the world” which is in Rome—and missionary zeal?

 

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