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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Homily - (Christ the King) How to "get it" when it matters

There is a longing for the human heart and mind to know the fullness of truth, and the more important the question, then the more we long for the real answers.  For example, when struggling with an illness, we usually won't settle for "shallow" answers that don't really get at the heart of it.  If our stomach is writhing in pain, we want to know what's wrong.  If our vision is blurred non-stop for three hours but then goes back to normal, we won't settle for the fact that at least things are okay now.  We want to know what is going on, why things are the way they are.  And to do that we have to get to the deeper causes.

Well the same goes for the deeper questions of our faith: why does a 14-month old baby die unexpectedly?  Why do planes crash?  Why do we have to suffer such pain, and ultimately die?  Why?  We don't "get it" sometimes.  We don't see the deeper answer to our deep questions.

The section from Saint Paul's Letter to the Colossians today brings in focus for us the only real answer to our deepest questions: the person of Jesus Christ, and especially his Paschal Mystery.  The truth is that we will never "get it" for the deep questions of life if we don't "get Jesus."  If we don't put Him at the center, nothing else makes sense.

Have you ever said (or had your kids say): "Mom (or Dad), you just don't get it."  I think there's some time where every teenager says this (or at least thinks it 100 times) - whether it is about hippie outfits or 80's hairstyles or grunge music or Pokemon Go or today's "lingo" or anything else.  So often we just don't "get it" - which is fine for small things but is a tragedy and a disaster when it comes to the most important things of life.

Paul summarizes the centrality of Jesus perfectly: All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent.

And Luke today shows us where Jesus becomes a King, on the Cross.  This is the one who will judge us at the end of time.  If this Year of Mercy has taught us anything, it has taught us that we should not fear the loving God who freely gives everything, even the clothes on his back, to win us back to him - truly a love that is absolutely infinite.

One of the deepest questions, why do we suffer, is answered not by a statement from God, but by His own suffering with us.  We must never doubt that God can use any suffering we endure for love of Him to bring about a greater good, even if we never see it.

Finally, let us remember the words to the good thief: "Today you will be with me in paradise."  This is one of the reason's why we reject the idea of capital punishment and physician assisted suicide: it is never too late on this earth, even to our last breath, to receive God's mercy.  We all need His Mercy, and we may need every moment to receive it.

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