Jesus Christ is King of the Universe

Homily for Christ the King (Year A)
November 25-26, 2017
St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 5:00 PM
Sacred Heart, EGF – 7:30 AM; Holy Trinity, Tabor: 10:00 AM

Focus:              Jesus Christ is King of the Universe.
Function:        Crown him the King of your universe.


Christ on throne - Meinrad Chapter Room 1

Christ seated on his throne, ready to reward each who followed him faithfully.
Saint Meinrad Archabbey – Chapter Room
Ecce veni cito et merces mea mecum est reddere unicuique secundum opera sua. (Rev 22:12)
Behold I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.

Inside every human heart, there is a kingdom.

This kingdom has great potential. It possesses unfathomable wealth.

This kingdom has an incredible intellect that can be used to accomplish marvelous things.

This kingdom has the power to dramatically influence the lives of others.

This kingdom can be at the service of others or it can be at the service of itself. It can be a wellspring of great good or a never-ending pit of evil.

It can be a kingdom of excellence or a kingdom of mediocrity.

Inside every human heart, there is a kingdom.
Inside every heart, a battle rages for this kingdom.

A battle rages for the kingship.

Every kingdom has a king.

Who will be the king of your kingdom?
Who sits upon the throne of your heart?

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Kingdom of God in these final days of Ordinary time.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom… (MT 25:1-13, Nov 12).

The Kingdom of Heaven will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them…to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to a third, one. (MT 25:14-20, Nov 19).

The Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce “Look, here it is” or “Look, there it is.” For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you. (LK 17:20-25, Nov 16).

Brothers and sisters, the Kingdom of God is here and now.
The kingdom of God is among us.
It is here.

It is here because Jesus is here.
He is here in the Eucharist.
He is here in the Body of Christ which is the community of the Church.

The Kingdom of God is here even though it may be difficult to see it at times.

We have to learn to look for it.

A few summers ago, I participated in a hospital chaplaincy program in the cities. I went to the hospital every morning and visited patients, and I was on-call several nights and weekends during the summer.  For someone who likes to be in control and to know what’s coming, it was an anxiety-provoking experience.

I found my refuge each day in a nearby parish which offered adoration and daily Mass at a time that allowed me to attend before going to the hospital each day.

At the start of the summer, I was very aware of receiving the Lord in the Eucharist and then bringing him with me, in the pyx of my heart, into the hospital each day. I trusted that, through me, he was present to the patients I encountered throughout the day.

That was true.

But it wasn’t until mid-summer that I realized something else.

I realized that I was beginning to see differently.

It was as if time slowed down. As I walked by someone in the hallway, I began to see them as Jesus would see them.  I saw them as a son or daughter of the Father.  I became less focused on myself and how I could minister to them and became more focused on them.  I began to see Jesus in them.  Jesus was not only in my heart from receiving the Eucharist that day, he was also within the sick people I met each day.

That changed everything. It changed how I interacted with them.

The Kingdom of God is among us.
We have to learn to see it.

It is ready for us, but we must be ready for it.

We must decide.
Each of us must decide.
You must decide.

Inside every human heart, there is a kingdom.
Every kingdom has a king.
You must decide who will be the king of the kingdom within your heart.

Jesus Christ is the rightful king. He is the one who created you, who redeemed you, and who loves you.  He went to the Cross for you.  You are made to live with him eternally.  You are his.

Is he yours?
Is he your king?

Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. That is certain.  That is what we celebrate today.  One day he will return again.  He will return and he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another…

He will separate them.

He will separate those who have enthroned him as the King of their Hearts from those who have enthroned someone else.

Those who have him seated on the throne of their hearts will inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

Those who have themselves seated on the throne of their hearts, those who find themselves sitting on his throne when he returns, will go off into the eternal fire.

Who sits on the throne of your heart?
Who is the king of your heart?

Is it Jesus? Or is it you?
Are you wearing his crown? Are you sitting in his chair?
Or are you serving the needs of His Kingdom?

How do you know?

Brothers and sisters, we know.

We know where we compromise.
We know where we cut corners.
We know where we are stingy, where we are selfish, where we choose ourselves over others.

We know.

Matthew 25 confronts us face-to-face today.

If you want to know whether Jesus Christ is the King of your Heart, here’s the test.

For I was hungry and you gave me food.
I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
A stranger and you welcomed me.
Naked and you clothed me.
Ill and you cared for me.
In prison and you visited me. 

If Jesus Christ is the King of your heart, you see differently.

You see as he sees.
You see others as he sees them.
You see with tenderness.
You recognize others who have him as their king, and you serve him by serving them.
You recognize within others the battle raging for the kingdom…even if they don’t recognize it themselves.

The Kingdom of God is about changing how we see. It is about conversion of heart.  It is about changing from being “me-focused” to being God-focused, and since God cares for all, that leads us to care for all.

Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe.
Is he the King of your universe?

Chaplain’s Conference: Keep Death Daily Before Your Eyes

Chaplain’s Conference
Sacred Heart Catholic High School
November 15, 2017

Focus:          Keep Death Daily Before Your Eyes.
Function:    Repent.


stbenedictBack in September, I was vesting to concelebrate the morning Mass when my phone rang. A man had been brought to the ER.  It didn’t look good.  I took off my vestments and drove to the hospital.  As I entered the room with his family and approached the gurney, everything stopped.  Rich struggled to breathe, like a fish out of water.  I quickly anointed him, gave him the apostolic pardon, and told him his sins were forgiven.  The doctors and nurses resumed their activity.

Rich was no stranger to suffering: first a cancer diagnosis and then ALS. He died a couple of days later – the day before his 52nd birthday.  His family was crushed.  I visited with them again in the days that followed as we prepared for his funeral. They told stories of his life.

Rich had first been diagnosed with the cancer 10 years ago. It was a heavy cross. He suffered much. Yet, he refused to let it get him down. He chose to pick up his cross and carry it rather than allow it to crush him. Instead of lying in bed at home, he chose to sit in the bleachers for his kids’ sporting events and push through the pain. He chose to make jokes and keep his sense of humor with his family even though it would have been easy to focus on his own pain and suffering. His love for his family turned his suffering into a sacrifice – something offered up for the good of his family, and his sacrifice for them revealed the depth of his love. As I said, his family was crushed when he died. The depth of their grief – of their suffering – revealed the depth of their love for him.

The funeral reading they chose was from Book of Ecclesiastes: “God has made everything appropriate to its time.”

As I prepared the homily for Rich’s funeral, I realized that God had indeed made everything appropriate to its time for Rich. The Holy Spirit inspired me to look at the liturgical calendar for the day he died.  And there it was: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  Rich, who knew the cross so well, died on the very day that reminds us that the suffering of the cross leads to the glory of the resurrection. Rich died on the day that reminds us that Jesus Christ triumphed over the suffering of the cross and transformed death from an impassable wall into a doorway – a doorway that leads to eternal life…if you are willing to walk through it…if you are willing to forsake the wide road that leads to destruction and instead walk the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Death is not the end – it leads to the glory of the resurrection – if you are willing to take up your cross and follow him.

Are you willing to do this?

October was respect life month. October reminded us of the incredible gift God has given us. He has given us life. And not only life, but eternal life. Eternal life with him in Heaven or eternal separation from Him in Hell.

November is the month of the dead.

On November 1, we celebrated All Saints Day. We celebrated the men and women of every time and place, saints known and unknown, saints like Peter and Paul but also saints like Rich, saints who loved greatly and now stand in the presence of God – God who is Love itself.

On November 2, we celebrated All Souls Day. We prayed in particular for those souls who are undergoing their time of purification in purgatory – souls who strove to love but had not yet been perfected in love when they died and needed some purification before they could be ready to receive the great gift of Heaven – to stand in the presence of the One who is Pure Love itself.

All throughout the month of November, we remember and pray for those who have gone before us: grandpas and grandmas, moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and friends.

And we are also reminded of something that we often fail to consider. We come face to face with a reality that we don’t like to think about.

We remember that, one day, we will die.
I am going to die.
You are going to die.

Saint Benedict had a saying that he repeated often for his monks:

Keep death daily before your eyes.

Always remember that you are going to die and live in such a way as to be ready for death.

A friend of mine knew a priest who bought his own coffin. His coffin was handcrafted and made of wood. He stood it on its end in his office and installed some shelves so that it could be used for a bookcase. Every morning he’d walk into his office, stop, point to his coffin, and say “I’m coming for you!”

He kept death daily before his eyes.

Last week, the Church remembered Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Martin was a man who lived in the 300s. He was a monk and later became a bishop and was a good pastor for his people. He showed them how to live a godly life, and he cared for those in need. And he kept death daily before his eyes.

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death. When his time drew near, he told his brothers he was about to die. But first he had to make a visit to one of his parishes. The priests there were fighting among themselves, and he wanted to help them reconcile. Even though he knew he didn’t have much time left, he chose to undertake the journey for their sake. Love turned the suffering of the journey into a sacrifice for them.

He spent some time with them, and was able to help them forgive each other and reconcile with one another. He told them he was dying. They were saddened. “Why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone?” Martin wept and turned to the Lord in prayer, saying, “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man that words could not describe. Death could not defeat him and he wasn’t afraid of hard work. He neither feared to die nor refused to live. He was lying on his back on his deathbed. Some of the priests suggested that he should turn over and give his body some relief. He answered by saying: “Allow me, my brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.”[i]

 Martin kept death daily before his eyes.

Do you?

Are you living now so that you will be ready to face death?

Here’s the test. If you were to die today, what would other people say about you? What would be your legacy?

Would they say you are generous or would they say that you are stingy?

Would they say you are kind or would they call you a bully?

Would they say that you sacrificed for others or that you only looked out for yourself?

Would they say that they were a better person for having known you? Or would carry within their souls the wounds from their interactions with you?

Would they say that your example of holiness inspired them to pursue holiness themselves? Or would they say that your example of vice led them into sin?

Would they say that you were a man or woman who forgives? Or would they say that you were a man or woman who holds grudges?

Would you be known as a man or woman who loved greatly?

What would others say about you?

What would Christ say about you?

What would your FaceBook page, your Twitter feed, or your snapchats say about you?

Keep death daily before your eyes.

Rich was ready.
Martin of Tours was ready.

Are you?


 

[i] From the second reading in the Office of Readings for November 11, the Memorial of Saint Martin.

The Saints are Among Us

Homily for All Saints Day (Year A)
November 1, 2017
Good Samaritan, EGF – 10:00 AM
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 6:00 PM; St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 7:30 PM

Focus:              The saints are among us.
Function:         Today we celebrate them.


all saints

They are here. They are among us.
The saints.
They are living among us.
They are here.

St. Irenaeus once said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” The saints were fully alive when they lived on earth and they are fully alive in Heaven.  If the glory of God is man fully alive, and the saints are fully alive, then the Glory of God is in his saints.

And, brothers and sisters, the Glory of God is blinding today. It is a blinding light.

They are here.
They are all around us.

We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…
A cloud of intercessors.

We are surrounded by men and women who sought to love God with the totality of their being – with all they’ve got – with all they have and are.

We are surrounded by men and women who allowed their lives to be transformed, who allowed their hearts to be converted, by the grace of God and the light of the Gospel.

We are surrounded by them.
We are.
They are here.
They are among us.

We are surrounded by men and women whose example of life inspires us and spurs us on to pursue a more abundant life. A life lived not for ourselves but for others.  A life poured out in service.  A life lived for God.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Saints both known and unknown.
Saints from every time and place.

kolbe

Saints like Maximilian Kolbe, a man who stepped forward and offered his life in exchange for the life of Franciszek Gajowniczek, who had been sentenced to death in a starvation bunker in Auschwitz during World War II, a man whose last dying act was to raise his hand in blessing over the man who gave him his lethal injection.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

frassatiSaints like Pier Giorgio Frassati, still a blessed and not yet recognized as a saint, an Italian man who loved the Eucharist even more than he loved mountain climbing and smoking cigars, a man who died much too young at the age of 24 by contracting polio from a sick person he ministered to, a man whose last act on his deathbed was to scribble out a note to a friend telling him that the medicine in his coat pocket was to be delivered to a poor man who was unable to afford the medicine he needed.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Stanley_RotherSaints like Stanley Rother, a farm boy from Oklahoma who became a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who worked in the Missions in Guatemala, a man who refused to leave during the civil war when it became dangerous, stating “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.” Fr. Rother was true to his word and it cost him his life. He was beatified 2 months ago and became the first American-born martyr.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Saints known and unknown.
Saints famous and obscure.
Saints recognized and unrecognized.

Saints like our parents and grandparents who, in simple and humble ways, went about the tasks of their daily lives with a charity, a joy, and a zeal for others that lifted others’ spirits, that let others know they were cared for, that they were loved, that they mattered.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Saints like our friend who suffered greatly from this or that cancer, but never complained and seized the moment of each day, saints who turned their suffering into a sacrifice for the sake of the ones they loved, saints who lived each day to the fullest, saints who could see God’s grace present to them in the midst of the Cross they carried.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Saints like firemen who rush into burning buildings to save others’ lives at the cost of their own.

Today we celebrate them. We celebrate all saints.

Saints known and unknown.
Saints canonized and not canonized.
Saints famous and obscure.

And, brothers and sisters, saints in heaven but also those saints who still walk among us.

Saints like our children and grandchildren who struggle to balance work and family life, who strive to teach their children about the Love of God in a culture that so often has forgotten about God.

Saints like the neighbor who has suffered so much loss in her life and yet still she presses on with courage and joy because she hopes in the promises of her loving God and longs to see his face.

Saints who volunteer their time to come and sit with us, to listen to our stories, saints who visit those in the nursing homes and hospitals, saints who visit those who are confined to their homes, saints who comfort us in our sadness and bathe the wounds that come from living with the compassion from their hearts.

Today we celebrate them.
Today we celebrate the heroic men and women of every time and place.
Today we celebrate all saints.

Today we honor them.
Today we thank them.
Today we ask them to continue to pray for us, so that where they have gone, we may one day follow.

They are here.
They are all around us.

They are the Glory of God.
And, brothers and sisters, the Glory of God is indeed blinding today!