Bridging the gap between the sacred texts, secular press

| Deacon Adam Westphal | November 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

My fellow deacons and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner with Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn. After a wonderful dinner, as we sat around enjoying each other’s company, one of my classmates asked the archbishop: “Archbishop, do you have any advice to offer us as preachers in the Church?” After a moment’s reflection Archbishop Flynn told us, “When you are preparing a homily, do so with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”

Taking the good archbishop’s advice to heart, I looked at the newspapers of the past weeks. I saw the articles surrounding the failure of the marriage amendment and the running commentary on Archbishop John Nienstedt’s involvement. I saw also a glimmer of hope in that healthcare may be extended to all — something the bishops very much supported until the HHS mandate made what should have been a great gain for Americans into something that seeks to strip us of our religious liberties.

Then, I looked at the readings for this weekend, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The first reading talks of how Daniel sees “One like a Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” — Daniel catches a glimpse of God’s heavenly reign.

In the second reading, John tells us that Jesus is the ruler of the kings of earth, and that through his blood we have been made into his kingdom.

And, in the Gospel, we hear the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, an earthly ruler and a heavenly one. As Jesus’ earthly ministry is coming to its brutal climax, Jesus assures Pilate that “my kingdom is not here,” and “for this reason I came into the world — to testify to the truth.”

What sort of testimony is Jesus giving to truth? The Greek word here used for “testify” is like the word used in the second reading for “witness,” and this Greek word is where we get our term “martyr” — one who witnesses to the faith.

The faith of the martyrs becomes our faith as well, for we know that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world but is found in the world to come. Some will be called to witness to the truth the same way Christ was, as so many in the history of the Church have witnessed. Those who share in Christ’s sufferings will truly be called friends of the King.

Even despite this call to share in Christ’s passion, we have hope. Our hope is not that we will be victorious here on earth, but that even if we share in a death like Jesus we will be raised up again to share in his glory. The Church indeed may be called to suffer here for a time; but that is in line with the whole history of the Christian church. Jesus doesn’t guarantee success. He does guarantee suffering, but he also guarantees that he will be with us in the midst of that suffering.

No matter the cost

On this feast of Christ the King, let us remember that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, although we work for it while on earth. Let us pray, brothers and sisters, that if Jesus calls us to share in his kingdom, we do so no matter what the cost, and work to bring that kingdom to others here on earth.

Let us work with the intention of taking Archbishop Flynn’s advice to the next level: Let us strive to make the stories found in the daily papers reflect the love and truth Christ reveals in his person, reveals in the sacred page. May God make our lives the homily that bridges the gap between the sacred texts and the secular press.

Deacon Adam Westphal is in formation for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Des Moines. His home parish is Holy Trinity in Des Moines and his teaching parish is St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater.


Sunday, Nov. 25
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

  • Daniel 7:13-14
  • Revelation 1:5-8
  • John 18:33b-37


Many Christians today experience suffering as they strive to be effective witnesses of the faith. What lessons do they teach us as we strive to be better Christian disciples.

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Category: Sunday Scriptures