Tycoons Come to a Bad End
1. Fr. Jude Botelho
Twenty-five years later, (1) Charles Schwab had died in bankruptcy, having lived on borrowed money for five years before his death. (2) Samuel Insull had died virtually penniless after spending some time as a fugitive from justice. (3) Howard Hopson was insane. (4) Arthur Cutten died overseas, broke. (5) Richard Whitney had spent time in Sing-Sing. (6) Albert Fall was released from prison so he could die at home. (7) Leon Fraizer, (8) Jessie Livermore, and (9) Ivar Kreuger each died by suicide. Measured by wealth and power these men achieved success, at least temporarily. Making a lot of money may be an acceptable goal, but money most assuredly does not guarantee a truly successful life.
1. Fr. Jude Botelho
In our present times we do not make much of royalty and we have discarded the trappings and structures of royalty in favour of democracy. Yet we admire people who are loyal and faithful to lawfully constituted authority. Today we are reminded that God is the ultimate authority and He commands our respect and loyalty not because he exercises power over us but because He constantly cares for us. We can show our loyalty to Him by respecting and caring for His people, our brothers and sisters.
Have a renewing weekend, rededicating our lives to His Kingdom!
In the first reading, Ezekiel likens God to a shepherd, who tenderly looks after his sheep, He is always watching over them, and protects them especially when they are in danger. The readings of the day remind us both of God’s care and of God’s expectations of us His people, who belong to His flock. This shepherd does not control or force us to follow him yet at the same time if we are on His side then we must be like our shepherd, caring, and loving. We may give up on God but God never abandons us.
If only I knew it was you!
Nelson Mandela was still a young man when he became leader of the banned African National Congress. At a certain stage of the struggle he was forced to go underground. He used many disguises and in general remained as unkempt as possible, so that he would not be easily recognized. Once he was to attend a meeting in a distant part of Johannesburg. A priest had arranged with friends of his to put him up for the night. However, when Mandela arrived at the house, the elderly woman who answered the doorbell took one look at him and exclaimed, “We don’t want your kind here!” And she shut the door in his face. Later when she found out who it was she had turned away she was horrified and said to him, “If only I knew it was you, I’d have given you the best room in the house.” Mandela did not let incidents like this deter him.
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’
The Gospel puts before us the other side of the picture. While God is ever caring and watchful over us He wants us to listen to him, to heed his voice and follow his example. In any organization, if we want to belong to it then we have to live according to its practice, precepts and policies. We are told in no uncertain terms that the only criterion by which we will be judged is whether we have loved our brothers and sisters. The yard stick is something tangible: “What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me!” Have we cared for others, have we shown our love in action. What matters is not doing great things, spectacular deeds that will be noticed by others, but the small things often unnoticed that we do for those in need. We will be judged by what we have done as well as by what we have not done. Sometimes we look at ourselves and say we are pretty good because we have not done anything bad. But have we done the good we could have done? Saying the kind word, lending a helping hand, finding time for others in spite of being busy, cheering up those who are depressed, visiting the friendless, writing or phoning those who are alone, appreciating the many good things that people do for us…. The list of small things can be endless! People ask: “Where can I find God? What should I do to find Him? The answer is simple: He is to be found in the poor, the weak, the needy, the helpless, and in those who take care of these people.
The beggar King
There is an old Irish legend that tells of a king who had no children to succeed him on the throne. So he had his messengers post signs in every town and village of his kingdom inviting qualified young men to apply for an interview with the king. Two qualifications especially were stressed: The person must have a deep love for God and for his neighbour. The young man around whom the legend centres saw one of these signs. He believed he had the necessary qualifications and he felt an inner calling to apply for an interview. But the young man was so poor he did not have decent clothes to wear for the interview. He also had no money to buy provisions for the long journey to the king’s castle. He decided to beg for clothes and the provisions he needed. When everything was ready he set out. After a month’s travel, one day the man caught sight of the king’s castle. At about the same time he also caught sight of a poor old beggar sitting by the side of the road. The beggar held out his hands and pleaded for help. “I’m cold and hungry,” he said in a weak voice. “Could you give me something to eat and something to wear?” The young man was moved by the sight of the beggar. He stripped off his warm outer clothes and exchanged them for the old tattered coat of the beggar. He also gave the beggar most of the provisions he had been carrying in his backpack for the return journey. Then, somewhat uncertainly he walked on to the castle. The guards met him and took him to the visitors’ area. After a long wait he was led to the king. He bowed before the throne. When he straightened up, he could hardly believe his eyes. He said to the king, “You were the beggar besides the road. Why’d you do this to me?” “I had to find out,” said the king, “if you really did love God and neighbour”
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’
Lord and King
Once a soldier was taken before the Roman magistrate. His crime was that of being a Christian. The magistrate asked him, “Are you a Christian?” The Christian soldier replied, “Yes.” The magistrate enquired, “If so, are you the enemy of Caesar?” The Christian replied, “No.” “Then you must offer incense to the image of Caesar”, said the magistrate. The Christian replied boldly, “I refused to offer any incense to Caesar. God and God alone must be adored and worshipped. Jesus alone is my God and I love and worship Him alone.” The magistrate threatened saying. “If you refuse I will sever your head from your body.” The Christian boldly replied, “You may cut off my head from my shoulder, but you cannot separate my heart from my King and God – Jesus Christ.” The Christian was decapitated.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
The King and I
In the famous 1956 film, ‘The King and I’ transposed into a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the King of Siam entrusts his many children to the care of governess Anna. Christ the King and I, too, are involved in a love-story. Jesus entrusts his children into my care. How do I respond to the King and his little ones? “Here is your footstool and there rest your feet where live the poorest, the lowliest and the lost,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore in the Gitanjali. May I love The King in that beggar at my doorstep that I might be worthy of his kingdom.
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
Go right in…
There was a queue of people outside the gates of heaven. Each person was asked the question: ‘Why do you think you should be admitted?’ The first person in the queue, a very religious man, said, ‘I studied the Bible every day.’ ‘Very good,’ said the Lord. ‘However, we’ll have to carry out an investigation to see why you studied the Bible. So please step aside for a moment.’ The second was a very pious woman who said, ‘Lord, I said my prayers every day without fail.’ ‘Very good,’ the Lord answered. ‘However, we’ll have to see if your motives were pure. So step aside for a moment.’ Then an innkeeper approached. He just said, ‘Lord, on earth I wasn’t a very religious man, but my door was always open to the homeless, and I never refused food to anyone who was hungry.’ ‘Very good,’ said the Lord. ‘In your case no investigation is needed. Go right in.’
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’
What are you?
A young teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist; that she doesn’t believe in the existence of God. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is, but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like flash fireworks. There is however, one exception. A beautiful little girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. “Because I am not an atheist.” Then, asks the teacher, “What are you?” “I’m a Christian.” The teacher is a little disturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian. “Well I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if you mom was an idiot and your dad was an idiot. What would you be then?” Lucy paused and smiled and said, “Then I would be an atheist!”
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’
Christ the King
In 1903, people of Silao in Mexico erected a 30 feet high statue of Christ the king. The statue looked at the city with love and expectation. The revolutionaries destroyed the statue. The people of Silao put the pieces and the bits together and rebuilt the statue again which brought peace, joy and happiness to the nation. Jesus came to build the Kingdom of God but his adversaries destroyed it. The disciples, the messengers of Christ are called to rebuild the Kingdom of God. The feast of Christ the King teaches us to serve Christ in our fellow creatures here and now with love and complete dedication.
Elias Dias in ‘Divine Stories for families’
In all things may we be gentle and loving like Christ our Shepherd King!
2. From the Connections:
A lesson in heaven and hell
A great warrior once went to see a monk who lived in the hills outside the city.
“Monk,” he asked in a voice accustomed to immediate obedience, “each me about heaven and hell.”
The monk, physically about half the size of the warrior, looked up and replied with utter disdain: “Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you anything. You’re ignorant. You’re dirty. You smell. Your blade is rusty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The warrior was furious. So stunned by the little monk’s arrogance and vehemence, he was speechless; he shook with rage; his face reddened. The warrior drew out his sword and raised it above him, ready to slay the monk with one blow. The monk did not cower. “That’s hell," the monk said quietly.
The warrior was overwhelmed. The compassion and surrender of this little man who was prepared to offer his life to teach him about hell! The warrior slowly put down his sword; he was filled with gratitude and a peace he had never known; he was transformed by what he had just learned from the generous monk.
“And that's heaven,” the monk said.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to make the kingdom of God a reality in whatever place we are, in whatever time we live. God’s reign is established, not by acts of heroic sanctity and miraculous transformations but by the simplest and most hidden acts of compassion, reconciliation, peace and justice. Faithfulness begins with the ability and perspective to see in every man, woman and child the face of Christ and to then afford them the dignity and respect worthy of that identity. May these last days of this year and first days of the new be a time for us to embrace the vision and spirit that will bring God’s kingdom to life among us.
Matthew’s is the only description of the Last Judgment in any of the Gospels. It is Jesus’ last discourse recorded by Matthew before the events of the Passion begin to unfold. In the vision he presents in today’s Gospel, Christ is the king who sits in judgment “as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.” Mercy and charity will be the standards for determining one’s entry into the future kingdom of God.
Christ the Shepherd-King clearly and unequivocally identifies himself with the poor. Our “greatness” lies in our ability to reach beyond ourselves to bring justice, peace and reconciliation into the lives of everyone.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta put today’s Gospel theme so succinctly when she said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by I was hungry and you gave me to eat . . . I was naked and you clothed me . . . I was homeless and you took me in. Hungry not only for bread -- but hungry for love; naked not only of clothing -- but naked of human dignity and respect; homeless not only for want of a room of bricks, but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.”
In nations ruled by a royal family, the concept of monarchy is based on two premises: that the king rules by “divine right,” that is, by the authority of God; and that the character of the entire nation is vested in their king, sometimes expressed in the idea of the sovereign being the “father” of his children, the governed. In this light, Christ is indeed King. Jesus is the anointed one of God, the Christus, the Messiah raised up by the Father. And he is the very essence of his people, the Church. His Gospel is the bond that unites us as Church; the Eucharist, his body, gives life to that Church.
To claim that Christ is our “King,” to proclaim ourselves to be “Christians,” demands a clear and conscious decision by each of us, not passive compliance to a “herd” spirituality. To truly celebrate this feast means to welcome Christ not just into the compartments and slots of our lifestyles marked “religion” but into every thread and fiber of the fabric of our lives.
3. From the Sermons.com
Like it or not, judgment is a fact of life. That is true whether we are talking about the histories of nations or the events of our own personal life. If we break the law, then society will judge us. If we live immorally -- drink too much, engage in sexual promiscuity, live a lifestyle of constant stress -- then our bodies will judge us. We simply cannot escape judgment in life.
Jesus rarely spoke about the final judgment, but on one occasion he did paint a picture for us in one of his stories. The parable that I just read gives a strong jolt to those who are heavy on doctrine but short on ethics.
A shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, said Jesus, so too shall there be a great division on the final day. Those on the right hand will be allowed entrance into the kingdom, while those on the left will be denied it. And the great surprise is that those who thought they were religious turn out to be not as good as they thought, and those who thought they failed were told they did a better job than they supposed.
I would like to suggest three points that this parable is attempting to make this morning...
1. We Are to View Each Individual As if They Are Christ.2. The End Criteria Will Be Simple Acts of Kindness.
3. We Are Judged by the Good We Do Not Do.
___________________________There are two types of students. There are those students who jump for joy when they hear the words "take home final." And there are those students who are not thrilled with joy but filled with dread when they hear the words "take home final."
At first blush it seems a no-brainer. Who wouldn't prefer a take home exam? There is no time crunch. There is unlimited access to resources for checking facts and figures. There is the ability to modify, or even completely change, responses after thinking about them for a while.
But the students who dread the take home final know there is a down side to all those benefits. With all that extra time and unlimited information and fluid flexibility, there come greater expectations. With a take home final there is never a firm answer to how much more the instructor expects.
Instead of a quick couple paragraphs, obviously a longer, more extensive, more exhaustive presentation is rightly required. With access to unlimited resources who is to say how many examples are "enough" to prove your point? An exam given in a closed class room for an hour or two puts all students at the same advantages and disadvantages. It's a level playing field. A "take home final" by definition will be "taken" at a different "home" by each student. A "take home final" forces students to take their exam in their individual real words - whatever those worlds might be like.
Why is it that we are always warned "don't take your work home with you"? That caution is not about teachers correcting papers on the living room couch or real estate agents updating their listings online while watching Sunday night football. "Don't take your work home with you" is our attempt to draw a line between who we are in one part of our life versus who we are in another part of our lives. "Don't' take your work home with you" tries to disconnect what we do 9-5 from who we are 5-9.
For Jesus' disciples that is impossible. In today's gospel text Jesus makes it clear that Christian life comes with a "take home final"...
_______________________Mommy, I'm Hungry
It's been years, but I remember Fred Craddock telling of the time he attended a conference on hunger. Influential, knowledgeable speakers had been brought in from all over to talk on the subject. Near the end of the conference, Fred says, a young, willowy woman got up to speak. Her long straight hair fell down her back, almost to her waist. She carried a legal pad to the podium and began reading.
At first, Craddock says, he couldn't follow what she was saying. Eventually, it dawned on him, as it did all the other listeners. She was reading the same sentence over and over, each time in a different language. Finally, at the very end, she spoke the sentence in English. All the time she was saying, "Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I'm hungry."
She was the most powerful speaker of the entire conference, Craddock says. At least, she had the most impact upon him. As he and his group drove back to Atlanta, alongside the highway he read a billboard he had seen numerous times. Before, he had hardly even noticed it. This time he did. It said, "All You Can Eat Buffet, $4.99." This time, Craddock says, that message seemed to him to be obscene.
Guilt can be a powerful motivator.
Randy L. Hyde, The Scavenger Hunt
___________________________The Long Reach of an Act of Kindness
He was the youngest of eight children, living as a sharecropping family. Everyone in the family was needed to help with the crops. After several years of schooling the family pressed each child into service on the farm. Fortunately the boy's mother intervened on behalf of her child and was allowed to stay in school. When he was ready for college he chose the Lane Institute, working as many as four jobs in addition to full-time studies. It was all physically and emotionally wearing.
He worked for a summer as a porter on a train and happened to meet a man early in the morning who couldn't sleep and wanted to talk. This man was impressed by a black porter working to earn money for college and tipped him the unimaginable sum of five dollars.
By the end of the summer Mr. Haley had to decide whether to convert his summer earnings into a mule and begin to sharecrop, or to stretch to complete his last year at school. He took the risk of competing college.
Alex Haley tells us what happened next: "When Dad arrived on campus, the president called him into his office and showed him a letter he had just received. The letter was from the elderly man whom my father had met on the train, and it contained a check for $518 to cover Dad's tuition and living expenses for one full year." The kindness of an unknown friend made all the difference in the life of Alex Haley's father, Alex Haley himself, and every succeeding generation of that family.
As a person who has been in just a minor degree of need, I know what the acts of love and care performed by virtual strangers can mean.
Richard J. Fairchild, When Lord, Did We See You
_______________________Virtue in Anxious Times
Anxiety's central message is that we cannot afford to share because we can never have enough. Put more strongly, in a culture marked by anxiety and fear, the very things we have traditionally called sins or vices (hoarding, greed, suspicion) become wise and prudent virtues. Fear, rather than love, governs our lives. But such fear is a kind of idolatry because it suggests we are giving more attention to our own security than we are giving to God. As Scott Bader-Saye warns, "the ethic of security produces a skewed moral vision. It suggests that suspicion, preemption, and accumulation are virtues insofar as they help us feel safe. But when seen from a Christian perspective, such 'virtues' fail to be true virtues, since they do not orient us to the true good-love of God and neighbor. In fact, they turn us away from the true good, tempting us to love safety more than we love God."
The "human way out" of the despair of our age is through hospitality because a person well practiced in Christian hospitality chooses love over fear, trust over suspicion, and even risk over security.
Paul J. Wadell, Toward a Welcoming Congregation
________________________The Weakest Link
From time to time, I have both revealed my true age and tested the outer limits of your memory by talking about the games I once played as a child. But, to my knowledge, I never once mentioned that grand old standby of playgrounds everywhere, "Red Rover."
Start with two teams. Could be five to a team. Could be ten to a team. Red Rover is one game where almost any number can play. Call one team "Team A." The other, "Team B." String each team into a line. Have each line face each other, several yards apart. Encourage each team's members to join hands or link arms... whatever it takes to unify the line and make it solid. Then have Team A single out one member of Team B to test the strength of that linkage.
Together, Team A calls across the playground divide: "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy cross over." At which point, Billy (from his position on Team B) sucks in his breath, marshals his adrenaline, engages his feet and runs pell-mell toward Team A's line, trying to break through. If Billy can't... break through, I mean... then he is captured and must remain a member of Team A. If, however, Billy does manage to break through, then he selects a member of Team A... usually the strongest and fastest member of Team A... to take back home and join Team B. The game goes on until one team is out of players. Or until recess ends.
Some schools, I am told, now forbid the playing of Red Rover on the grounds that it has the potential to become overly rough and violent. Truth be told, I suspect most kids play it anyway.
As a kid, I quickly learned that, in playing Red Rover, my head was as important as my body. When the opposing team called, "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy cross over," they were counting on the fact that they would be able to keep my body from penetrating their line... given that I clearly and obviously lacked the girth then that I possess now. They had absolutely no respect for my physical prowess... failing to see in me the athletic behemoth I would one day become.
But while I may have been spindly, I was far from stupid. I knew I did not have to overwhelm all 20 kids in that line. I only had to overwhelm one... or at most, two. Somewhere in that line, there had to be... just had to be... two kids whose linked arms were scrawnier than my chest. So after isolating them, I ran at them, through them, or over them. Whatever it took. For I learned, early in life, that Team A's line was only as strong as its weakest link.
That was shortly before I learned that if we are all created equal, it is only at the point of opportunity, and seldom (if ever) at the point of ability. I remember long years of my life when I would have gladly traded the things I was good at, for even one of the things I wasn't. I would have willingly accepted C's on my report card in return for the ability to hit a curve ball. And 12 years of violin training I would have ditched in a heartbeat for the knowledge that I could beat up Frankie Paciero (if necessary) or turn the head of sweet Janie Swift. To be sure, I had a couple of ten-talent chips in my genetic poker hand. But for years, I didn't know what they were and wouldn't have valued them if I had.
The weakest link. In some setting... on some day... in some endeavor... that's going to be every one of us.
William A Ritter, www.Sermons.com
_____________________________A Small Act of Kindness
Let me suggest that you try something that never gets old or stale or unsatisfying. Do something for somebody truly in need.
Let me tell you about a man named Floyd. According to the standards of the world Floyd was nobody. Floyd traveled around the country looking for work at harvest time. Floyd had no home and no place to go. A couple invited him into their home and gave him a home-cooked dinner. Floyd said very little as they ate. The wife, Nancy, offered to wash his clothes for him but Floyd declined the offer. He picked cherries in the orchard next to their home that day and slept under the trees that gave him his livelihood.
Early the next morning Floyd returned to the couple who had shown him kindness. While he finished one last project in the orchard, Nancy, on an impulse, wrote him a letter telling of God's love. Then she tucked it with a little cash into a New Testament. She found his backpack in the yard, and stuck the packet inside. She imagined him traveling that day looking for work and at the end of the day bedding down somewhere under the stars, weary and all alone. She was warmed by the thought of Floyd's surprise when he discovered her note, the New Testament and the cash she had planted in his backpack.
This Christian couple never saw Floyd again. Four years later Floyd's sister wrote to the them, telling of his death. As Floyd's sister was going through his few belongings she found the New Testament and the letter Nancy wrote telling of God's love. "They must have been very dear to his heart," Floyd's sister concluded, "for he carried them with him until he died."
It was such a simple gesture " a note, a Bible and a little cash " but little counts for a lot in the kingdom of God. I don't know about you, but I want to be surprised at finding myself among the sheep on that day of judgment. More importantly, want to possess a faith that's real. I want to take advantage of one of the most joyous opportunities Christ gives us, to minister to him.
Nancy Leman, Traveling Friend, Adapted by King Duncan, www.Sermons.com
_____________________________I Kept an Open Door
A Jewish story goes: I went up to Heaven in a dream and stood at the Gates of Paradise in order to observe the procedure of the Heavenly Tribunal. I watched as a learned Rabbi approached and wished to enter. "Day and night," he said, "I studied the Holy Torah."
"Wait," said the Angel. "We will investigate whether your study was for its own sake or whether it was a matter of profession and for the sake of honors.
A Righteous Person [a Zaddik] next approached. "I fasted much," he said, "I underwent many ritual cleansings; I studied the Zohar the mystical commentary on the Torah day and night."
"Wait," said the Angel, "until we have completed our investigation to learn whether you motives were pure."
Then a tavern-keeper drew near. "I kept an open door and fed without charge every poor man who came into my inn," he said.
The Heavenly Portals were opened to him.
Rabbi Aaron Leib of Primishlan, as quoted in Abraham Karp, The Jewish Way of Life and Thought, New York: KTAV Publishing Inc., 1981, p.177
________________________________A Deep Love for God, A Deep Love for Neighbors
There is an Irish legend about a king, who had no children to succeed him on the throne. So, he had his messengers post signs in every town and village of his kingdom inviting qualified young men to apply for an interview with the king. This way the king hoped to be able to choose a successor before he died.
Two qualifications, especially, were stressed. The person must have a deep love for God and a deep love for his neighbor.
A young man saw one of the signs. He indeed had a deep love for God and neighbor. He felt a kind of inner voice telling him to apply for an interview.
But the young man was so poor that he didn't have decent clothes to wear to an interview. He also didn't have any money to buy provisions for the long journey to the king's castle.
So the young man prayed over the matter. He finally decided to beg for the clothes and the provisions he needed. When everything was ready, he set out. After a month of travel, one day the young man caught sight of the king's castle. It sat high on a hill in the distance.
At about the same time, he also caught sight of a poor old beggar sitting by the side of the road. The beggar held out his hands and pleaded for help. "I'm hungry and cold," he said in a weak voice. "Could you give me something warm to wear and something nourishing to eat?"
The sight of the beggar moved the young man. He stripped off his warm outer clothes and exchanged them for the tattered old coat of the beggar. He also gave the beggar most of the provisions he had been carrying in his backpack for the return journey. Then, somewhat uncertainly, he walked on to the castle in tattered clothes and without enough food for his return trip...
*******4. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:
“He is something more than a king.”
In Lloyd Douglas’ book, The Robe, the slave, Demetrius, pushed his way through the crowd on Palm Sunday, trying to see who the center of attraction was. He got close enough to look upon the face of Jesus. Later another slave asked, “See him – close up?” Demetrius nodded. “Crazy?” Demetrius shook his head emphatically. “King! No,” muttered Demetrius, “not a king.” “What is he then?” demanded the other slave. “I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “but he is something more than a king.”
“Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!”
Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their fanatical zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became mentally deranged; another was slain by his own son. One of them became blind; another was drowned. One was strangled; another died in miserable captivity. One of them died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room. Two committed suicide; another attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work. Five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners. Among those who died in battle was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle and saw that all was over with him, he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (Boise)
Christ is in charge:
Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: "Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: 'Thomas, who is in charge here?' Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ "
Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: "Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: 'Thomas, who is in charge here?' Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ "
About three centuries ago, Spaniards besieged a small French town, St. Quentin. The city walls were in ruins; fever and famine plagued the people. One day the Spaniards shot over the walls a shower of arrows to which were attached little slips of parchment promising that if they surrendered, their lives and property would be spared. The mayor of the town was a devout Huguenot. For answer, he tied a piece of parchment to a javelin and hurled it back to the Spaniards. On the parchment was the message: "Regem habemus" -- "We have a king!" Christians also can say, "We have a King." Jesus is our King. We belong to his Kingdom.
Mother Teresa & Leo Tolstoy who recognized the king in disguise:
The story is told of Mother Teresa of Calcutta observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm's length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, "You don't understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to him." Or again, Leo Tolstoy's story "Martin the Cobbler" tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day, he awaits his arrival. But all that comes is a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking "perhaps tomorrow he will come," only to hear a voice reply, "I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times." Christ is a king who goes about in disguise as the poor, the sick, the cripples, the tortured, the marginalized.
A Jewish boy was lazy in his studies and misbehaved in the public school. So his parents enrolled him in a Catholic school to see if he would improve. His parents were surprised to observe that the boy stopped his excessive watching of TV, limited his time on computer games and spent most of his time in studies. At the end of the year, he was the best student in class. His baffled parents asked him what had happened. "The first day I went to school," he explained, "and saw that man hanging on a plus sign at the main entrance of the school building, I knew you couldn't fool around here and get away with it.” Today’s gospel reminds us that the man on the cross is not an object to frighten naughty kids, but our king and savior who died for us promising us eternal life, and who will come in glory to judge the world on the day of the Last Judgment.
Jesse Owens challenging Adolf Hitler:
The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer's authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the U.S.A. He was aptly called "the fastest human alive." Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his "Aryan race" of "supermen" would conquer the world. In implementing his theory he began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks, Negroes as they were called then, as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler's claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we give allegiance. We owe our allegiance to Christ the King who redeemed us by shedding his blood.
A church in Ohio did it with a large icon--a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus with upraised arms, installed in a cornfield just north of Monroe, Ohio on Interstate 75. The statue--dubbed "Super Savior"-- was erected by the Solid Rock Church, in Middletown. Here is what is interesting. Traffic fatalities on this notorious stretch of road have dropped dramatically since the Super Savior statue was raised. Is that pure coincidence or has the Styrofoam and fiberglass Christ really aided road safety? Nobody knows. (Dr. John Bardsley, National Catholic Reporter, 10-28-2005, p. 3). Certainly a giant statue of Christ does no harm, and if it improves traffic, that's fine. But do not be confused. This is not the best way to express our allegiance to Christ. The best way to express our allegiance to Christ is to make our lives worthy of the name Christian.
Feast of Christ the King:
In 1925 Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this is Christ's world, not the property of the emerging dictators of that day. Mussolini had been in power for three years. Adolf Hitler had been out of jail only a year, and was finding great popular support for his fledgling Nazi party. The pope had the courage of his convictions to declare, despite dictators, that Christ was King, reminding Christians where their ultimate loyalty lay! (From a sermon by Don Friesen, Ottawa Mennonite Church).
A newspaper story, some time back, recorded the grim incident of a police officer shot and killed in the line of duty. His great desire before he was killed was to see his family's back yard completely landscaped, a desire he never saw fulfilled because of the bullet that ended his life. Some of his fellow officers, who had grown to love their fallen comrade, donated their time and money to complete the work. Because it was the policeman's desire to finish the project it became his friends' desire. (Allen Hadidian, Discipleship, Chicago: Moody Press, 1987). To those of us who love Jesus Christ and accept him as the king of our lives, the application is clear. What He loved and desired, we should love and desire and work to complete. His work is to see lost men saved and built up. His work is to see this world redeemed. His work is to see this unfinished world be brought to completion. We who love Him are called to complete the task.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the PAX ROMANA, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years was initiated. It was he who ordered the building of roads linking the great empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: "In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born the One who was far greater than he. He was the one who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer always referred to Jesus as "His Majesty," and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.
The forgiving King:
Rev. Tony Campolo says that in his teenage years he was terrified by a visiting pastor's depiction of Judgment Day. This pastor claimed that one day God would show us a movie of every single sinful thought, word, or action we ever committed. And he ended his lurid description with the announcement, "And your mother will be there!" But Tony claims that Judgment Day will more closely mirror what happened during the trials over the Watergate scandal. The prosecutor brought in a tape of a conversation between Nixon and his aides. Just at the most crucial part of the tape, the section that revealed their crimes, there was an eighteen minute gap of silence. Nixon's faithful secretary, Rosemary Wood, had erased the incriminating evidence! In the same way, Campolo says, Jesus will erase all the incriminating evidence against us as he did to the repentant thief crucified at his right side.
You're with Him; go on in."
A few years ago, Pastor Erwin Lutzer and his daughters were visiting Washington, D.C. While there, they met a man who had served on former President Bush's secret-service security team. The gentleman offered to give them a guided tour of the Oval Office. Pastor Lutzer and his daughters passed through many security checkpoints the next day on the way to the Oval Office. At each checkpoint, they expected to be searched and questioned. But instead, the guards took one glance at the secret-service man and announced, "You are with him; go on in." Pastor Lutzer wrote that he expects our entrance into heaven will be like that. We will have no credentials of our own that could possibly get us in. But Jesus will be walking along beside us. And at each gate, the angels will take one look at Jesus and announce, "You're with Him; go on in." (2. "Do Many Paths Lead into God's Presence?" By Erwin Lutzer, Preaching Magazine, Mar./Apr. 2001, p. 20).
King who conquered death:
Worldly kings do not have this power. Their last enemy is death which ends their power, wealth, and prestige. In Vienna there is a crypt under a Capuchin church. In this crypt are buried 140 kings, queens, princes, and princesses. Each sarcophagus is sculptured in steel. The largest is a double tomb for Maria Theresa and her husband. On each sarcophagus is carved a cross and the king's or queen's crown. On each corner of one sarcophagus is a skull wearing a crown. The message is clear: Death is king! Even kings are conquered by death. But the kings of God's realm live in spite of death. As kings, we Christians need have no fear of death, for by the power of the cross, death was defeated. (L/10)
Co-pilot Christ the king: Many people love bumper sticker theology.
Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make us think. One such, “God is my Co-pilot," has also been found on church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder. In this case, the Church sign says, "If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats."
Long live Christ the King! In the 1920s a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and it tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!" They called themselves "Cristeros." The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey" “Long live Christ the King!” At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up "Padre Pro" or "Saint Miguel Pro" on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom)
On His Majesty’s Service:
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. He was told if he cursed Christ, he would be released. He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king Jesus Christ who saved me?" The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt." But Polycarp said, "You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish."
Desperate deaths of autocratic kings & dictators:
The death of Josef Stalin (1879-1953), the Communist dictator was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visual than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), who proved an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last, wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit, but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX, who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was said to have offered, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s gospel challenges us to compare to these deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)
“Honey, take a long, long look”:
As the body of Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio for mourners to pay their tribute, a black woman in the long queue lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. He died for us, to give us freedom from slavery.” Today’s gospel gives us the same advice, presenting the crucifixion scene of Christ our king who redeemed us from Satan’s slavery by his death on the cross.