Domini Nostri Jesus Christi Regis [Our Lord Jesus Christ, King]: October 29, 2017
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Toronto
©2017 Roger LaRade
Colossians 1, 12 – 20; John 18, 33 – 37.
“Dual Presence: Thorn-crowned Sovereign”
On this last Sunday in October, we celebrate the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ, King; of Christ, our Sovereign. This is the placement which the feast has in the pre-Vatican II Roman liturgical calendar. According to this placement immediately before the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1, we are reminded that Christ’s sovereignty indeed is intimately linked to the Triumph of the Saints. As well, the sovereignty of Christ is then recognized as being in closer relationship to the fate of all the faithful departed which we commemorate on All Souls’ Day on November 2.
Of what is made the sovereignty of Christ? What does this mean?
The feast day was instituted by Pope Pius XI on December 11, 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. The encyclical, and the feast, were measures meant to address the evolving secularism in society, what was called ‘anticlericalism’ in those days; that is, “a way of life which leaves God out of (our) thinking and living and organizes life as if God did not exist. The feast was intended “to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.” More specifically, the encyclical bemoaned the fact that references to Christ were being dropped or no longer being made in the affairs of government and nations. It saw secularism as “the direct denial of Christ's Kingship.” In the words of the encyclical:
the annual and universal celebration of the feast of the Kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which anticlericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ, and will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights.
And, more specifically,
Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.
It would seem that this concern of the early 20th century is still alive in the early 21st century as discussions abound over the separation of religious faith and social and political life. Indeed, a growing secularism has relegated religion to the sidelines. Certainly, this is due to a growing secularism, where religion is considered irrelevant, or simply a matter of personal preference. It is also due to the reality of a multicultural society where the diverse religions are pitched against one another to show up their subjectivity and, therefore, untrustworthiness. It is also due to Churches themselves which often cling to doctrines about human nature, including issues related to gender, family and sexuality which clearly contradict sound reason and scholarship, and therefore, remain locked in an artificially restrictive paradigm of human nature. A current example of this is the Roman Catholic Church’s Synod of the Family which has just concluded.
So, given all this, the question poses itself: What does it mean to proclaim and celebrate Christ as sovereign? Of what is made the sovereignty of Christ, since we realize that it’s meaning can be, and is, used by various parties to further often conflicting social and political agendas? How do we approach our faith in Christ in terms of our life in the world, especially given Jesus’ response to Pilate that his “kingdom is not from this world” (John 18: 36).
In his response to Pilate Jesus doesn’t deny his sovereignty, “but he dissociates it from the political form of government that concerns Pilate”. By his answer, Jesus “turns the focus toward heaven, where he will be crowned not with gold but with glory and honor”. We read why this is in Hebrews 2: 9: “…we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death…”(italics added). This verse leads us to the Gospel passage for the feast today. It provides us with no surer guide. Significantly, the Gospel passage for today is the same passage that is used for the Passion on Good Friday.
We can therefore have the certainty that the sovereignty of Christ is rooted in the Passion of Jesus. Christ is sovereign because He has suffered. He took onto himself the sin and suffering of the world, and through His suffering and death, brought it into the glory of His Resurrection.
In our linear and time-defined way of thinking, we tend to think of these as cause-and-effect: Jesus suffered and died, then Christ was resurrected and ascended in glory into Heaven. On the earthly plane this is in fact the case. But on the cosmic plane, in a spiritual perspective, these two events become states of being. And they co-exist. Suffering and death; resurrection and ascension. They form a dual presence of Christ Jesus in our lives.
This impression was clearly made on me as I was one day praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. At one point, I noticed that my visual focus was shifting from the gleaming golden monstrance on the altar to the life-size crucifix immediately behind it, and especially to the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus; back-and-forth, from the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance to Jesus Crucified; from Jesus Crucified to the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. From Enthroned Sovereign to Thorn-crowned Crucified; from Thorn-crowned Crucified to Enthroned Sovereign. It struck me that we, followers of Jesus Christ, live in the inbetween of these two presences, or more precisely perhaps, in the inbetween of this dual presence. We are partakers of both the Enthroned Sovereign, reigning gloriously over and in us, and of the Thorn-crowned Crucified, called to share in Jesus’ suffering and death as he suffers and dies in and around us in the world, and so, called to share in his sovereignty.
This Dual Presence guides our proclamation of the sovereignty of Christ, and conditions the kind of involvement we have in the world. These are to be rooted in the Thorn-crowned Crucified, the Suffering Christ, that is, the suffering yet sovereign Jesus Christ, both suffering human and sovereign God. Our proclamation of Christ’s sovereignty is that of the way of compassionate and redemptive action in the world; an action not corrupted by triumphal power and myopic certainty but centered on loving and humble solidarity with the poor, the marginalized and the suffering in our world.
In our action and prayer, we should never lose sight that we live in the inbetween of the Dual Presence. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 Quas Primas (On The Feast Of Christ The King); Pope Pius XI, par. 25.
 Ibid., par. 32.
 Scripture quotations are from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition (NRSV).
 The Gospel of John, Scott Hahn & Curtis Mitch (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 52.
[by father Richard Sorfleet, St. John the Evangelist Mission]
Simon and Jude, Apostles [October 28th.]
Feasts, Fares and Fears
The Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude affords the Church the occasion of addressing the socio-theological implications of the destruction of the city of Sodom as recounted in Genesis 19 thanks to the traditional epistle reading from the Letter of Jude verses 7 and 8.
Even with the new Common Lectionary now adopted by many mainline churches with its expanded coverage of Holy Scripture, to quote Vatican 2 In order that richer fare may be provided for the faithful and The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly (as )more representative portion of the holy scriptures ...read to the people [Sacrosanctum Concilium] there are omissions and one is Genesis 19. The Sunday readings from the point of view of continuity follow the story of Abraham and the birth of Isaac, and thus omit the subsequent events after the Angels leave him at the oaks of Mamre and go on to Sodom. [Week 13 Year 1 of the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary does have as its first reading Gen 19 and then only dealing with Lot's flight from the city v15 to 29; thereby omitting the real issue at hand. Again, a strength of the traditional Sunday lectionary and the continuous chapter by chapter readings of the daily office over the course of the calendar year.]
Yet today both Church and State are more seized and in some quarters, obsessed by the story of Sodom, and uninterested in the grand sweep of God's speaking to mankind through the Prophets and the witness of the Apostles.
Simon the Zealot is remembered for being martyred by being sawn in two and Jude, martyred with an ax, as the patron of lost causes. And both are lost in the rush to the commercialized fear fest of the 31st.
Somewhere in that secular pumpkin patch the Church needs to get out the message on meaning of the two verses of Jude which describe more horror than all our Hallowe'ens ever combined.
7 In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and neighboring towns practiced immoral sexual relations and pursued other sexual urges. By undergoing the punishment of eternal fire, they serve as a warning.
8 Yet, even knowing this, these dreamers in the same way pollute themselves, reject authority, and slander the angels. CEB
Not just the what happened in Genesis 19, but the full context involving the why. An inclusive church should not fear teaching the tough stuff and addressing opinions and prejudices based on scriptural snippets and out of context quotes. The richer fare is not only the reading but the full interpretation as well.
Almighty God, which hast builded the congregation upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesu Christ himself being the head corner-stone; grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable to thee; through Jesu Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jude 1- 8
Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James.
To those who are called, loved by God the Father and kept safe by Jesus Christ.
2 May you have more and more mercy, peace, and love.
3 Dear friends, I wanted very much to write to you concerning the salvation we share. Instead, I must write to urge you to fight for the faith delivered once and for all to God’s holy people. 4 Godless people have slipped in among you. They turn the grace of our God into unrestrained immorality and deny our only master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Judgment was passed against them a long time ago.
5 I want to remind you of something you already know very well. The Lord, who once saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who didn’t maintain their faith. 6 I remind you too of the angels who didn’t keep their position of authority but deserted their own home. The Lord has kept them in eternal chains in the underworld until the judgment of the great day. 7 In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and neighboring towns practiced immoral sexual relations and pursued other sexual urges. By undergoing the punishment of eternal fire, they serve as a warning.
8 Yet, even knowing this, these dreamers in the same way pollute themselves, reject authority, and slander the angels. CEB
John 15: 17- 27
I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.
18 "If the world hates you, know that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, I have chosen you out of the world, and you don’t belong to the world. This is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you, ‘Servants aren’t greater than their master.’ If the world harassed me, it will harass you too. If it kept my word, it will also keep yours. 21 The world will do all these things to you on account of my name, because it doesn’t know the one who sent me.
22 "If I hadn’t come and spoken to the people of this world, they wouldn’t be sinners. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me also hates the Father. 24 If I hadn’t done works among them that no one else had done, they wouldn’t be sinners. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 This fulfills the word written in their Law, They hated me without a reason.26 "When the Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You will testify too, because you have been with me from the beginning. CEB
Father Richard Sorfleet, St John the Evangelist Mission
Trinity 19 October 22nd., 2017
O God, for as much as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Grant that the working of thy mercy may in all thngs direct and rule our hearts; Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19 who being past feeling gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye did not so learn Christ; 21 if so be that ye heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22 that ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23 and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.
25 Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need. 29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. 30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.
And he entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came into his own city. 2 And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven. 3 And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto thy house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they were afraid, and glorified God, who had given such authority unto men.
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