One company’s recent application included an interesting — and cynical — provision: In their proposed building, people residing in the more affordable apartments would have their own entryway — in a back alley behind the building.
A company spokesman explained: “No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations . . . I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in the building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.”
A pastor of a church in Manhattan reacts to the plan:
“Predictably, news of the poor door has ignited flames of outrage. But they’ll die down. The poor doors in luxury buildings are just the latest manifestation of what goes on every day. Our systems of health care, education, immigration, and criminal justice all have their poor doors in the back alleys of edifices built for the more privileged.”
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...
3. We Are Judged by the Good We Do Not Do.
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
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.
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.
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.
3. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:
1) On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the second century 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.”
2) The King of Kings is a silent film directed by Cecil B. De Mille in 1927. It is a religious movie about the last weeks of Jesus on earth, with H. B. Warner starring as Jesus. It was a production acclaimed by world-famed scholars, the press and the public in the U. S. and abroad, as the most ambitious presentation of the final years of the life of Jesus ever pictured on the screen. It was seen by over a billion people all over the world. De Mille claimed that the most important tribute to the movie he had ever received came from a woman who had only a few days to live. Her nurse wheeled her to a hall in the hospital to see the movie. After viewing the whole movie she wrote to the producer DeMille: “Thank you sir, thank you for your King of Kings. It has changed my expected death from a terror to a glorious anticipation.” She shared the feelings of the good thief who heard the promise of Jesus: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Both of them were suffering, both expected death and both received new hope from the dying King of kings for only he could give them what he promised because he is God, the King of kings and Lord of all. –Today, as we celebrate the feast of Jesus, the King of kings, and as his Calvary sacrifice is re-presented on our altar, let us approach our Lord with repentant hearts and trusting Faith in his promise of eternal life. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
3) Long live Christ the King! In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and 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!” 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) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
4: 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, not you, Mom.’ ”
5: Sleep-inducing sermon on Christ the King: “I hope you didn’t take it personally, Father,” an embarrassed woman said to her pastor after the Holy Mass, “when my husband walked out during your sermon on Christ the King.”
“I did find it rather disconcerting,” the pastor replied. “It’s not a reflection on you, Father,” she insisted. “Ralph has been walking in his sleep ever since he was a child.”
6: 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.”
1)”We have a King.” 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. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
2) 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 visible 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 himself 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 bargained, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
3) Mother Teresa and Leo Tolstoy recognized the King in disguise: The story is told of Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), 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 come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend, all of whom he helps. 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. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
4) INRI: 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 God, 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.
5) 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 USA. 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, Hitler 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 Hitler’s 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 like 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 to save us. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
6) “Super Savior”-– 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. Source: 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. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
7) Feast of Christ the King: In 1925, Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this was Christ’s world, not the property of the emerging dictators of that day. Both Josef Stalin in Russia and Benito 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). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
8) Unfinished work: 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).] The application to those of us who love Jesus Christ and accept Him as the King of our lives, 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 brought to completion. We who love Him are called to complete the task with His grace. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
9) 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, Caesar Augustus. It was Caesar Augustus 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 Augustus who ordered the building of roads linking the colonies of 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. Caesar Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Caesar Augustus, 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” (Luke 2:1) Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Caesar Augustus would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born 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?” (John 18:33). Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus the Nazarene, 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. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
10) 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 for the repentant thief crucified at his right side. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
11) “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 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.” [Erwin Lutzer, “Do Many Paths Lead into God’s Presence?” Preaching Magazine March/April, 2001), p. 20.]. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
12) 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 was carved a cross and the Royal crown. On each corner of one sarcophagus was a skull wearing a crown. The message was clear: Death was king! Even kings are conquered by death. But the King of God’s realm lives in spite of death. And so we, as Christians belonging to Him, have no fear of death, for by the power of His cross, death was defeated for us all. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
13) “Thy Kingdom come:” Those of us who live in the United States have no experience with royalty or with “Kingdoms” ruled by Kings or Queens. We have no Royal Family, so we have to invent our “Royalty.” We had the “King of Rock’n’Roll,” Elvis Presley. We had the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. We had a “King of Soul,” James Brown. We have a “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin. We have a “King of all Media,” Howard Stern. We have a “Queen of Clean,” Linda Cobb. We even have a “King of Greasy Goodness” for the “Queen of Clean” to clean up: “Burger King”! But in countries like the Motherland, Great Britain, there is a real Royal Family. And the public can always keep track of where their Monarch is through an ancient tradition. When the ruling Monarch is in residence, the Royal Standard, the flag of the ruling Monarchy of the United Kingdom, flies above. When the Queen is at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the Royal standard flutters overhead. When she is NOT in residence, the Royal Standard is replaced by the Union Flag (the “Union Jack”). At her residences in Scotland, the Royal Standard flies above Holyrood Palace or Balmoral Castle when she is present. When she is absent from the grounds, the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland is hoisted. Long before there were reliable news sources, just one glance overhead would let the citizens of the kingdom know whether their Monarch was present, or where “the King was in the Kingdom.” Maybe it is our lack of any historical connection to a “Royal Residence” that makes us so clueless about the concept of the Kingdom of God when Jesus talks about it. We are not very educated in being a “Kingdom” or even in knowing what “Kingdom come” means. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
14) The King of kings is here! The old Cardinal Hugh Latimer often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the king with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented Henry VIII with a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner -‘Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’; a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust, and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time – the next Sunday — when the Cardinal preached, he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, “Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here.” At the same time a voice in his heart said, “Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here.” Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
15) Dismas House — built to serve the parolees with “royal priesthood” of Christ the King: The salvation of the ‘good thief’, later named Dismas in Christian thought, reminds me of those heroic people who have tried to bring hope and saving concern to criminals in our society. I remember especially Fr. Jack Hickey, OP, a dynamic and charismatic chaplain at Vanderbilt University. Despite reservations from many quarters, but with help from dedicated lay partners, he founded “Dismas House.” Unlike the setup of other Dismas houses, recent parolees lived and worked with college students in the hope that mutual understanding and healing would take place. In the last years of his life, Jack fought virulent cancer and exercised his ‘royal priesthood’ from his personal cross, serving the parolees. Since his all-too-early death from cancer in January 1987, the movement has blossomed into ten such houses. (John Donahue in Hearing the Word of God). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
16) The real King? This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to “rubber stamp” all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the Constitution, he did not have a choice – as figurehead Monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. Granted, earthly Monarchs need Constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power. But, that’s not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ’s reign in our lives, we’re just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives. Clearly then, there’s false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, “Go to Hell!” sure, it’s easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, “I’m free – I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go!” Yet when the people who declare self-determination their highest law (and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning Christ the King in their hearts), hear HIM solemnly speak those same words as the judgment of their eternal damnation, they will discover the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all Creation. (John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online Reflections’). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
17) Jesus Wins : George III of England, America’s enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word “independence” without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned “Emperor of the New World.” That’s what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, “Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn’t. Jesus wins, Pilate loses. (William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
18) Freedom Riders : Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the ’50s and ’60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King. When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail, the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep. For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of Gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their Faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, “You can take our mattresses, but you can’t take our souls!” The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious. Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King! [Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain — Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, (CSS Publishing); quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila.] (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
19) Gandhi’s Strength: In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed by following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness. Jesus the King won freedom for mankind and won the hearts of mankind by his death on the cross. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
20) Man for All Seasons: There is a great scene in the play A Man for All Seasons that fits so well here. You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second in charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine since she was his sister-in-law and since she did not give birth to a male heir to the Kingdom. After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome. Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do. Then we come to the center point. Thomas More asks the King, “Why do you need my support?” Henry VIII replies with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest. And what is plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support. But you are different. And people know it. That is why I need your support.” In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject. (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
21) St. Ignatius of Antioch: The patron of our parish, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was the second most powerful Christian in the Roman Empire, second only to the Bishop of Rome. He had written letters to Christians to stand up for the Faith in the face of persecution. And then he, as a venerable old man, was arrested. He was put on a ship that would eventually end up sending its cargo to Rome. There he would be fed to the lions in the Coliseum. Many early Christians could not bear the thought of losing Ignatius. He was too important, too needed in the Church. They plotted to raise money to bribe the sailors in one of the ports the ship would stop before reaching Rome. They had plenty of time to do so, the trip would take two to three years. Evidently, they also had plenty of money. Wealthy Christians were determined to save Ignatius. They just didn’t understand Ignatius’ integrity. He was not going to buy his way out of a fate that he had encouraged others to have the courage to accept. Nor was he going to use some sort of skillful legalese to save his skin. So he walked into the Coliseum with the other Christians in control of the direction of his life. He was a frail old man; yet, he was more powerful than the lions who would destroy him or the Romans who did not have the courage to stop the absurd spectacle. Ignatius was a man of integrity.—– Ignatius of Antioch and Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity. The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie. And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath. (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
22) “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” St Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England. What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII, decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and make himself head of the Church of England, More knew this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the Divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, the King had More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the Faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of one’s heart and home; one must also confess him in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
23) King with a difference: In the year 200AD Jingo, the Empress of Japan, invaded Korea. Following the defeat, the Korean king placed valuable treasures before the empress and promised to pay “homage and send tribute until the sun no longer rises in the East, but comes from the West; until the courses of the rivers turn backwards and the river pebbles ascend and become stars in Heaven.” When the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon, she crossed the Sahara desert into Israel with more than 797 camels, donkeys, and mules too numerous to count. She gave the king 120 talents of gold, a very great store of spices, and precious stones. The value of the gold alone, which she gave to King Solomon, was of great worth. (1 Kings 10:2-5) It was customary, in the ancient world, to place great treasures and gifts before the emperors and kings to please them.
When the Magi heard about the birth of a King for the Jews they set out with royal offerings- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. After 33 years, the same king stood elevated on the cross with the inscription INRI, (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum – “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”). By placing this title Pilate on Jesus’ cross, Pilate had made an involuntary, but historical proclamation that Jesus is the King not only of the Jews but of the Universe. Many a time such involuntary proclamations of Jesus’ Kingship are heard from unbelievers. The soldiers made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they put a royal purple robe on him, and shouted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” (Jn 19:2-3) Fr. Bobby Jose). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
24) “I have nothing more to give”: Some years ago divers located a 400-year-old sunken ship off the coast of
Northern Ireland. Among the treasures they found on the ship was a man’s wedding ring. When they cleaned it up, they noticed that it had an inscription on it. Etched on the wide band was a hand holding a heart. Under the etching were these words: “I have nothing more to give you.” Of all the treasures found on that sunken ship, none moved the divers more than that ring and its beautiful inscription. The etching on that ring and its inscription “I have nothing more to give” -could have been placed on the cross of Christ. – Mark Link. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
25) Brothers and Sisters of the King: Sometimes Americans wonder why the English bother with the monarchy, since the Queen is little more than a figurehead with no authority. Yet, within most people there is a wish for a person to whom we can look up, someone who personifies dignity and wins our respect, a person who makes us feel better about ourselves. Many Americans found that kind of a person in the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States. He was young, handsome, intelligent and articulate. He was married to a beautiful woman who, it seemed to us, had become his Queen. The White House became known as Camelot. The United States had a family to whom many Americans attributed royalty. But on Friday Nov. 22, 1963 the dream was shattered with the President’s assassination. The dream of Camelot was gone, and the illusion of royalty was dimmed. All along we had been looking in the wrong direction, towards the White House as if it were a palace. We should have been looking back at Calvary, because the cross is truly the throne of Christ the King. We do not need an earthly sovereign to give us self-respect. Our King is truly royal. His kingdom is not an imaginary Camelot. It is an eternal and universal Kingdom, a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice love and peace. Our King is Christ the Lord. (Charles Miller in Sunday preaching; quoted by Fr. Botelho) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
26) Won’t you come down, King? A king once fell in love with a poor girl. At first, he thought of simply bringing her to the palace and marrying her, but he realized this wouldn’t work since she would soon realize the immense difference in their backgrounds and not be happy. After much reflection, he decided to renounce his kingdom and go and live near her, so that she’d realize how deeply he loved her. Shocking one and all, he left the palace. This story –adapted from philosopher Kierkegaard’s original –somehow reveals to us the great love of our king Jesus Christ, who ‘comes down’ that we might be raised up. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
27) “I could have been down there.” There is a story about a South Dakota rancher which reminded me that many of us know how near the Kingdom really is, but we just don’t talk about it in that way. The story goes that following the disastrous winter of 1997 with its many blizzards and ice storms, and its record losses of cattle, an older rancher welcomed several helping professionals to his ranch. They had come to visit with him on behalf of his Church, and to assess the extent of his losses from these disasters. He led them out to a hill in the pasture near his ranch, and told them they were standing on the grave of his herd of cattle. All but a small number had been frozen to death in an early April storm. The visitors were stunned by the enormity of his loss, and by his matter-of-fact manner in relating it to them. They questioned and probed a bit for some sense of his feelings about all of this, until he responded… as many South Dakotans did in the face of such disasters: “Well, it could have been worse.” The visitors were more sure than ever that this man must be deep in denial to have such an attitude about losing his life’s work in one weekend storm. They questioned and probed a bit more. How could it have possibly been worse? Having been pushed to explain himself, and probably having sized up the visitors as city folks, he finally responded by pointing down to the hill or grave they were standing on and said, “I could have been down there.” The story speaks volumes to me about rural people and their daily understanding of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. (Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdhal). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
28) Christ the King on the day of Last Judgment:
“Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” A story is told of a priest assigned in a seminary who took his sabbatical year in Kolkata, India to work with Mother Teresa. Towards the end of his sabbatical, he wondered what he could take back to his seminarians. Thinking back, he remembered how Mother Teresa received Holy Communion: her eyes and face glowed with love for Jesus as she expressed the desire to give him back her love completely. For the priest, that was understandable for she was then already known as ‘a living saint.’ But what he could not understand was what he saw one evening when she was with a sick person. The same glow in her eyes and face was present when she was attending to him. Reflecting on these two experiences, the priest discovered why. For Mother Teresa, that sick person was Jesus himself for did he not say: “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Do we see Jesus’ face in others, especially the poor, needy, marginalized, deprived, downtrodden, sick and suffering, and so on? Jesus meets us in their disguise. They are his true face. (Fr. Lakra) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
29) “Please, don’t be angry with me, my brother.” Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910 C.E.), the great Russian author was also a great Christian who took seriously the demands of the Great Sermon (Matthew 5-7) and attempted to live his life accordingly. One day a beggar stopped him while he was out walking and asked him for alms. Tolstoy searched his pockets for a coin but finding none he said with regret. “Please, don’t be angry with me, my brother, but I have nothing with me. If I did, I would gladly give it to you.” At that, the beggar’s face brightened with joy. “You have given me more than I asked for”, he said, “You have called me brother!” Tolstoy had not only grasped the intent of the Great Sermon but he had also penetrated the truth of today’s Gospel. He regarded the poor man, asking for alms, as a brother because he had understood and made his own the great commandment (Matthew 22:37). But he had also learned to see the face of Christ in the poor, and because of that insight, he met the criteria of judgment set forth for our consideration in this Matthean text. (Sanchez Fles). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/20