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A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The King Speaks to Me?

The Solemnity of
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Thirty Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Saint Patrick Parish
November 19/20, 2016


Have you ever felt like God is so distant that you can never hear him? Do you long to hear the voice of God but can’t seem to find it? Our celebration today of Christ the King of the Universe may heighten those feeling. How, or why, would Jesus Christ, King of the Universe speak to me? I know I have been there, especially when times become difficult. I believe that our Gospel for today presents us with a way of expressing this difficulty. Tradition has it that Christ was crucified in-between the two criminals that we hear about in the Gospel. One criminal sees clearly that something special is there and he knows that he can communicate with that presence; the other criminal, and indeed much of the crowd, mock Jesus, deny him, and ignore that presence that is in their midst – they just cannot grasp, for one reason or another, who it is there hanging on the cross. In this way, I believe that our Gospel presents us with a continuum on which we can find ourselves somewhere between recognizing Jesus in our midst and denying that presence. I believe that all of us can find ourselves in-between these two polls and in fact, that is where Jesus is, right there in the middle. 

Jesus between the two criminals.

It is not unusual to struggle to hear the voice and feeling the presence, of God in our lives. How then can we prepare ourselves to encounter that Divine presence in our lives? There are three main ways that our God communicates with us through the Church and that voice then informs our personal prayer and our relationship with the Divine. These three ways are: the Traditions of the Church, namely the Sacraments; the teachings of the Church known as the Magisterium; and through Sacred Scripture – the Word of God. It is this final way, through Sacred Scripture, which I want to focus on today. I could just tell you to go home and read your Bible more, and don’t get me wrong it is never a bad idea to open that Sacred book and start reading but there is a lot written there, and sometimes it can be difficult to understand what you are reading – and thus difficult to discern the voice of God, if we don’t have help walking us through it. 

A major way we get the help to work through Sacred Scripture as Catholics is through the readings at Mass, and we as a Church have a golden opportunity as this liturgical year ends and the new year begins next Sunday – the First Sunday of Advent. This year coming up is known as the year A1, A1, it’s not just a steak sauce, it’s a liturgical reality. You may not know that the Church has two cycles of readings rotating simultaneously: the A,B,C cycle tells us what readings to use for Sunday Mass and the 1,2 cycle tells us what readings to use for weekday Mass. This year is a wonderful opportunity to begin both cycles at the same time – thus the designation of this year as the year A1. We won’t have this opportunity again for six years. I encourage each one of you to consider encountering our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe more frequently using the lectionary cycles that the Church has carefully prepared for us. To give you a sense of how much of the Sacred Scriptures you will encounter if you start following along starting next week here are some statistics:


  • Old Testament without Psalms: (25,044 verses) 
    • on Sundays alone - 3.7 %
    • on Sundays and weekdays - 13.5 %
  • New Testament without the Gospels: (4,178 verses) 
    • on Sundays alone - 25.4 %
    • on Sundays and weekdays - 54.9 %
  • Gospels: (3,779 verses)
    • on Sundays alone - 57.8 %
    • on Sundays and weekdays - 89.8 %
  • Whole Catholic Bible without Psalms: (33,001 verses) 
    • on Sundays alone - 12.7%
    • on Sundays and weekdays – 27.5% 
Statistics Source: http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/Statistics.htm

The psalms have been excluded from these statistics because it is difficult to say just how much of that book of the Bible we hear at Mass because they are not only used for the Responsorial Psalm, but also in many of the hymns that we sing. The Book of Psalms is not only difficult to gauge, it is also the largest book of the Bible, so if we presume that we encounter much of the Book of Psalms in the span of three years that increases the percentages for the Old Testament. 

My suggestion for those that don’t necessarily attend Mass every Sunday is first and foremost to do so: we miss you when you are not here, and you miss out on encountering our Lord in the Eucharist and in the readings for the day. But if you are unable to come to Mass every Sunday you might consider listening to the readings online – more of that in a moment. If you do come to Mass every Sunday, perhaps you’ll consider coming to Mass during the week? Even if you can’t attend Mass every day of the week, you might take a few minutes every day to listen to the readings. Now, if you attend Mass every day here at Saint Patrick’s you’re not completely off the hook, we don’t have Saturday morning Mass and so that is one set of readings that you’ll need to find somewhere else. I believe that the Word of God is meant to be heard and so for the days that you are unable to get to Mass I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to the audio that the United States Catholic Bishops make easily assessable. Look on their website, they have the daily readings written out, they have audio of the readings, and they even have daily reflection videos about the readings. What they have provided is a wonderful resource and if you commit to encountering the Word of God on a daily they have made it as easy as possible.

I believe that many of us are desperate to hear the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, speak to us and make known his desire for our lives. He wants to speak with you; he is a God that goes out of his way to make his presence known and we might simply be missing out on the many he is speaking to us. In this coming year, A1 take the opportunity to listen to his word, and I assure you, you will hear God speaking to you.


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