The Sea of Galilee is below sea level, within a bowl of hills, and very subject to unpredictable storms. After a hard day’s preaching, Jesus, who governs the universe, is stretched out, asleep in a boat during a violent storm. The apostles’ maritime skills were not enough to endure the waves, so as a last resort, they turn to Jesus to calm the sea.
“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory, of His Flesh, the mystery sing; of the Blood, all price exceeding, shed by our Immortal King, destined, for the world’s redemption, from a noble Womb to spring” (Hymn Pange Lingua, St. Thomas Aquinas).
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.
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.