Egos strutted across the stage, making one think the presidential candidates were running for king of the manure heap. Like children playing King of the Mountain, candidates stepped on and over each other while struggling to reach the top. Certainly, this election brought forth the desire for power to reign over our country.
This Sunday’s Gospel celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King. Jesus is King of the Universe: “For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth.” As King, Jesus Christ has all the power, the glory, and the honor, yet He came not to rule but to serve. He is a King who humbly went to the cross, transforming hatred, violence, alienation, pain and suffering into love, compassion, unity, and joy.
I can’t even imagine Jesus playing King of the Mountain, as He would forgo any race to the top. Instead, Jesus would remain at the bottom with the weakest, the littlest, the poorest. I picture Jesus hugging the little girl in a wheelchair, warming the hands of the boy without mittens, laughing with the child with Down syndrome, and embracing the child who has been bullied. Jesus would protect any child feeling marginalized, excluded, or threatened.
Since the election, some persons in our country have felt more vulnerable to hatred and discrimination. In the United Kingdom, after the Pretix vote, some citizens began wearing a safety pin as a sign to any refugee, “You are safe in my presence.” I’ve been tempted to place a pin on my jacket to signify safety to our brothers and sisters—no matter race, gender, religion, nationality, or legal status. Yet wearing a cross should be sufficient for indicating my concern.
As Christians, wearing a cross must always signify, “You are safe in my presence.” Being a Christian demands we stand for the underdog—immigrant, refugee, unemployed, unborn child—for we are one in the family of God. Being a Christian insists we work to correct a justice system stacked against a segment of our population, for we are each created in God’s image. Being a Christian requires we advocate for religious freedom for all faiths, for all deserve the right to worship.
We name grace—God’s regal presence—in the domestic church by serving those incapable of climbing to the top. We name grace by learning about our neighbors and playing with classmates who are “different” from us. We name grace by standing up against any kind of hatred or violence.
Pope Francis commented on the recent election: "I do not make judgments on people and political men, I only want to understand what suffering their behavior causes to the poor and the excluded." Certainly, there is no perfect candidate or political party, as each advocate policies benefiting some while excluding others. Therefore, no matter who is president, our divine mandate remains the same—to stand by those marginalized and excluded.
Pray for our newly elected president. Pray for our country. Pray for our strength to stand for the other—from conception to natural death. As we close the Year of Mercy, may Jesus’ merciful love flow through us to each person we meet. Jesus Christ is the King who serves the last and the least. Now, that’s good news!
How will you help your child include a struggling classmate?
How can your family reach out to the marginalized?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church, 11-06-16
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this Sunday’s Gospel, the Sadducees challenge Jesus on the belief in resurrection—a realm beyond the physical world. Jesus counters by using Moses’ own words: the Lord “is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” As Christians, we profess our belief in eternal life through evidence of Jesus’ death and resurrection and His own words: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 25-26). According to the recent Vatican document on Christian Burial and Cremation, belief in the resurrection “is the culminating truth of the Christian faith.”
After my mother died, I accompanied dad to the funeral home for his first viewing of mom in the casket. With trepidation, we entered the funeral home and were solemnly led into the parlor. At first, dad stayed back, mustering strength to see his beloved wife laid in a box created for the earth. After a few moments, dad took a deep breath, stepped forward, and stood next to the casket, peered in and remarked, “Mama’s not here!” Satisfied, he turned around, ready to return home. Indeed, mama was no longer in the shell of her body. Her soul had departed and she was now living in a different—spiritual—reality.
Though “mama’s not here,” in some respect, she’s closer than ever. Believing in the resurrection, I freely share my struggles, sorrows, joys and dreams with her. While I continue to pray for her, I also quickly ask her to pray for me and loved ones: “Hey mom, we could really use a little help right now. Please pray for us.” I eagerly express moments of happiness with her: “Oh mom, aren’t you so delighted with this new great-grandbaby?” She is here, right now, in a deeply personal way.
Mom is like an angel as she is always with us, but she is not an angel. Sometimes, when desperate to comfort a grieving person, we blurt out, “She’s an angel now.” Though sincere, not true. Angels are purely spiritual creatures who serve as special messengers of God. Unlike angels, humans are embodied creatures, and on the Last Day will be given new, incorruptible bodies. Because God became man, in Christ, we are eternally physical and spiritual beings.
Parents wisely name grace—God’s redeeming presence—when a loved one dies: “We pray grandma is alive in Heaven with Jesus.” “You can always talk with grandma and ask her to pray for you.” We name grace when we share our core Christian belief: through Baptism, united with Christ, we will live forever.
When heading off to the monastery, singer Danielle Rose composed the song, See You in the Eucharist. Though she would no longer be physically present to her family and friends, she would meet them—spiritually—in the Eucharist. Each time we participate in the Eucharist, we are united in faith with our beloved deceased to worship the Lamb of God “with all the Angels and Archangels, and with the great multitude of Saints.” God’s love is stronger than death, and we can believe in His promise of everlasting life, knowing one day we will be united with all our loved ones—body and soul. Now when I attend Mass, I pause and smile, “Mama’s right here.” Now, that’s good news!
How do you speak about death with your children?
How would you describe Heaven?
For more information, please read the Vatican Document on Christian Burial and Cremation here:
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.