Today is the last Sunday of the Church year.
Our scripture readings today offer the final chapter
of a story that began a year ago on the First Sunday of Advent.
Jesus, in his last human interaction with a repentant thief, promises “You will be with me in Paradise.”
He can make that extraordinary promise to the repentant sinner because, as Paul explains in today’s letter to the Colossians:
“Jesus is the image of the invisible God sent to deliver human beings like us from the power of darkness.
• we can be transformed from this earthly reality,
o with its pain and confusion,
o anger and incivility,
o conflict and loss –
• and share in our inheritance of Light and Truth
For in him, the fullness of God’s love dwells,
And through him all things are reconciled.”
Each year, the story that leads to our celebration of this reality,
begins to unfold in our scriptures of the First Sunday of Advent,
and reaches its final chapter on this day,
the Feast of Christ the King.
When liturgical year we conclude today began on
Sunday, December 6, 2015, the 1st Sunday of Advent,
our scriptures told us the story of a world was in great turmoil.
Darkness, hatred, confusion, and fear were everywhere.
But, God had promised to send a Savior . . . God’s only Son
• To bring light into the darkness.
• To bring hope of a new life to those who lived in fear.
Soon, we were celebrating the Feast of Christmas.
God’s Word had become flesh to dwell among us.
In doing so, God cast off the trappings of royalty,
so we might know the true depth
of God’s love for us.
The Christmas story of Luke’s Gospel
and the Feast of the Epiphany taught us
that God’s love and mercy extended to all –
rich and poor, young and old, Jew and Gentile.
During his public ministry, Jesus demonstrated that love
by calling forth the gifts of ordinary people,
fisherman, housewives, tax collectors.
When he came across a sick person, Jesus healed.
When someone asked for guidance,
Jesus listened and gently offered just what was needed.
When friends were grief stricken,
Jesus wept with them, comforted them,
and even raised a loved one from the dead.
And, so we might know God better, Jesus,
by word and example, taught us how to pray.
On the night before he died,
• Jesus gathered his friends together,
• shared with them the very same meal we share today,
• and washed their feet to remind them and us –
that those who wish to be first in the Kingdom of God, must serve the rest.
On the afternoon of Friday March 25th, many of us gathered
to recall Jesus’ passion and death on a cross
and to wonder at the reality that –
• God’s only begotten Son had suffered and died
out of love for us – that we might live forever.
That night, and the next day,
Our church remained dark and barren.
There was no Mass on Holy Saturday
for the Lord’s body had been placed in the tomb.
Later that night, many gathered for an Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s Church.
Once again the scripture’s recalled that
our world had been in darkness.
Then, a solitary light was carried into the church –
the Easter or Christ Candle.
“Christ our Light” was proclaimed.
“Thanks be to God”, you responded.
Soon, that solitary light from the Easter Candle
spread throughout the church
as our catechumens and candidates processed forward
to the waters of baptism and new life.
The congregation sang in joyful unison . . .
Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!
This triumphant Easter Day. Alleluia!
“If we die with Him . . . we shall also rise with Him!,”
Fifty days later, the scriptures of Pentecost
reminded us that
• God’s powerful Spirit, alive in each of us,
• could transform the world, and that
• God has called each of us to play a part in
bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth.
But to play that part, we must first know and believe the truth:
Christ, not money, or popularity, or career, or power . . .
Over the last twelve months terrorism and deadly weather brought death and destruction here is the US and abroad.
Mass shootings in:
o San Bernardino, California,
o Glendale, Arizona,
o Kalamazoo, Michigan,
o Heston, Kansas and
o Orlando, Florida
The shooting of blacks and law enforcement officers resulted in Black Lives Matter and Police Lives Matter protests and recriminations in numerous US cities and forced our nation to take another hard look at the racial divide.
Abroad . . .
o Dozens perished in explosions in Brussels
o 28 people were killed and more than 320 people injured in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan
o 66 people died in the crash of an EgyptAir Flight which mysteriously went down over the Mediterranean
o 43 people were killed and 239 injured in a bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport
o A truck ran into a crowd of people in Nice, France, on Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people and injuring many others
Natural disasters also struck hard . .
o 73 people died in an earthquake that hit central Italy this past August
o 269 people died in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which devastated Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean
And an exhaustive presidential campaign has divided Americans and – with or without merit –
brought fear into the hearts of many immigrants, racial and religious minorities, the LGBT community and others.
Things are pretty messy here on earth and we really need a Savior to clean things up and restore peace, justice and civility to the world.
And so today, we gather again to write the last chapter in our liturgical year.
We’ve read Luke’s conclusion to the story . . .
• The Crucified man on the cross is truly the Son of God.
• The crucified man on the cross has the power to save us
o from the sin and separation,
o the anger and mistrust ou0u7
o that as individuals, country and world we are experiencing today.
Inspired and instructed by this story
It is time again for people of faith
to write our own final chapter.
Each of us must write our piece of the story. No one else can write our part for us.
It is time again, on this last Sunday of the Church year,
for each of us to decide . . .
• who we will chose to be our king . . .
• who will receive our loyalty and
• who it is or what it is
we’ll base our hope for the future.
Christians know that there can be only one king . . .
For only in God will our souls be at rest.
God is our hope and salvation.
Today the Church proclaims that Christ is King.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
is King of this world and the world to come.
Today, each of us must ask ourselves . . .
“Is Christ, the King that through
my words and actions I am serving?”
Have I put my life, my future and my faith in the hands of Christ the King?