The Roman soldiers, who among their other acts of violence against Jesus placed a crown of thorns on his head, were correct about one thing: He is a king. This painful irony is not lost on us, especially when we pray the third sorrowful mystery of the rosary.
As I came to know more about Catholicism, I discovered that the Church spoke to all aspects of humanity — holiness, personal relationships, family life, social justice, the economy and issues of war and peace, among them. The Scriptures for Feb. 1 remind me of that spiritual reawakening.
It used to be that you did not know who was calling until you answered the telephone. If it were someone you spoke with all the time, you would recognize his or her voice. The same is true with our relationship with God: The more we talk and listen to him, the more likely we are to recognize the voice when we hear it.
We are celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Today’s reading reminds us of three important aspects about understanding God’s presence through history: first, salvation occurs within history; second, the mystery has been revealed; and third, God works the impossible.
Each year we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “to rejoice.” In the second reading, we are given the simple command by Christ through his servant St. Paul, “Rejoice always.” These words are part of St. Paul’s final advice to the Thessalonian church in his first letter. He leaves them with a simple theme, which forms the context for the third Sunday of Advent.
We are being called to prepare the way of the Lord through all of the different wildernesses we experience in our daily lives. We need to prepare the way through the desert of our secular society. Most of all, we need to prepare a way through the wilderness of our hearts.
On Nov. 23, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. But Jesus did not appear on earth as we would imagine a king to appear. Jesus seems to be saying that he reigns as king somewhere other than earth, and we know the name of his kingdom: heaven.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus Christ institutes a new order of worship. No longer will we worship by simply offering animals in place of man for man’s sins, nor will we pay the temple tax to make everything right for the sake of observing the law. We are now to join Jesus Christ in offering the one sacrifice that he offers: the Eucharist.
Take a cue from those Christians heroically living their faith today and from the Thessalonian Christians of Paul’s time: In their immediate surroundings, they live the great commandment: love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.