Celebrate Sunday Mass - 11.26.23

NOVEMBER 26, 2023 -- The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

11/27/2023 (7 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

My friends, brothers, and sisters in the Lord

In an Apostolic Letter entitled"The Lords Day" (Dies Domini),Pope St John Paul II gave a summary of the Christian understanding of Sunday, and underscored our obligation to honor the Lords Day. The Letter began with these words:

"The Lord's Day - as Sunday was called from Apostolic times - has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ's Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5)".

Sometimes, Catholics and other Christians refer to Sunday as a "Christian Sabbath". Though well intentioned, this is incorrect. Sunday is "the Lords Day". This apostolic letter cites the biblical sources and the writings of the early Church manuals and early Church Fathers. The readings for the Sunday Mass set a framework for us to reflect on throughout the coming week.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, falls on the last Sunday of the Liturgical year in the Catholic Church. The readings for Holy Mass invite us to reflect on who the Lord is - and who we are called to become as we choose, every day, to follow Him. The images used for the Lord in our biblical passages are the Shepherd, and the King.

In our first reading from the Book of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, we heard the wonderful promise of the Lord, that He will shepherd His people, ‽As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered

when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.]

He did.] And, He does. Israel was deeply consoled by this promise, all throughout her journey from slavery into the land of promise. The image of the Shepherd was familiar to the people of the Covenant the Lord made with Israel. However, for most of us, it is not. These readings can help us to understand it. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We are the sheep He has rescued, healed, redeemed and brought together.

The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are members, is the New Israel. We know that Jesus, the Incarnate Word sent from the Father, the Savior promised throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, has come. He is the Good Shepherd and has made a New Covenant with all who are Baptized into Him. It has been sealed in His Blood.

And, He is coming again, at the completion of time, as the King of the whole Universe, to judge the living and the dead. Then, He will hand His Kingdom to the Father. Jesus the Lord, the Good Shepherd, will separate the sheep from the goats. The Psalmist and prophet David picks up the theme in the most well-known of all the Psalms, Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd. Do we experience the Lord as our Shepherd? Do we listen for His voice?

In the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul gives the early Christians, and each one of us, a deep and important teaching concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgement and the Resurrection of the Body. The early believers had received some bad teaching and were confused. Are we confused? We profess the ancient creed of the Church every Sunday. In it we affirm the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His Return, and our own Resurrection. Do we really believe this? If so, does it affect the way we live now?

On the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, we celebrate the full and final triumph and return of the One through whom the entire universe was initially created - and in whom it is being "recreated". Upon His final coming, this world will be completely reconstituted and handed back to the Father at the "end" of all time. That end will mark the beginning of a timeless new heaven and a new earth when "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death." (Revelations 21:4).

I suggest that it is no coincidence that the Feast of Christ the King and the last week of the year pass through the secular Feast of Thanksgiving. There is no separation for the believer between the secular and the Sacred. In the great event of the Incarnation and the fullness of the Paschal Mystery, all is made new. Secular Feasts such as the American Thanksgiving proceed from a Jewish and Christian memory in our ancestors. They knew, as do we, that we are a people who have received immense gifts from Some- One - and it is truly human to stop and give Thanks!

We do not bring God into time; He is the Creator of time. In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Eternal Word through whom the universe was created entered time to re-create it from within! We are invited by grace to come to acknowledge this mystery and then receive his creature time back as a gift, a good, to be given back to Him through living our lives in Jesus Christ now, for the sake of the world.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful secular Feast made even fuller in meaning for the believing and practicing Christian, when we examine the word thanksgiving itself. The word "Eucharist", in our lexicon as Catholics, means Thanksgiving. We are Thanksgiving people! We are called today to reflect on the Kingship of Jesus Christ on this Sunday after Thanksgiving.

As we move from one Church year to the next, we also move along in the timeline of the human life allotted to each one of us. We age. The certainty of our own death is meant to illuminate our life and the certainty of the end of all time is meant to illuminate its purpose and culmination in Christ. For both to be experienced by faith we must truly believe in Jesus Christ, the beginning, and the end.

Then, we walk along the way of living faith into the new Liturgical season, Advent. We are invited to prepare ourselves and the world of our time, making it ready for the final coming of Christ the King. Inviting all men and women to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, in His fullness. On this last week of the Church Year, let us remember that every end is a beginning - because in Christ the King - all things are being made new.

This year, the Gospel appointed for this Feast reminds us of our call to recognize Jesus in the face of the poor, in all of their manifestations. How are we doing?

Have a Blessed Lords Day,

Deacon Keith Fournier

Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil

Dean of Catholic Online School

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