Nov 25, 2017

King in Disguise

We are in the middle of that slow transition from what we remember as the summer, to what we anticipate as winter. Some find this time of the year beautiful because of the sharp freshness of the morning chill, the changing colors of the leaves, the streaks of shadows across the ground, the orange flickering of the setting sun. Others hate this time of the year! It’s cold in the morning. It’s dark in the afternoon and, outside of passing by hot Santa Anna winds, it’s usually overcast and gloomy!   We either enjoy or endure it while it lasts.  One way or another, we know that as the curtain rises, the curtain will also fall. 

In the meantime, in our collective prayer at the beginning of Mass we asked God to set all of creation free from slavery.  This was so that it might be able to serve Him as He intended it to.  God did not bring about the whole of creation for the purpose of taking photographs of it. It is, instead, given to us as a kind of stage.  We are not destined to sit as spectators in an audience. We are the main actors, the participants in a divine drama that is being told and retold through constantly changing scenarios.

In this ongoing drama, Christ Himself has a principal role. However, He doesn't necessarily take the leading role, where we would all easily recognize that it is He.  Instead, Christ will play the part of the beggar, or one who is hungry, maybe the sick person and even he might take the role of a the criminal.  He knows His part very well, not because He has studied human nature and learnt His lines well.  Instead, when He comes to us as the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned man, Christ has allowed Himself to be cast, not into the role, but to be cast into the real cruelty and injustice of this world to the point where He truly is hungry, He thirsts, He is crucified by this world.

Christ does this, not as the CEO of humanity, or like some undercover boss looking for ways to improve the effectiveness and quality of His enterprise.  Instead, Christ walks gently among us, connecting us with each other, showing us how to live together, work together, pray together, showing us how to take responsibility for each other, as a family should.  And before He will even attempt to lead us in the right direction, the first thing He does is offer healing for the injured and the sick. To get the flock through the winter, the shepherd has to make sure we are strong enough.  For this reason Christ the Good Shepherd offers healing of our souls through the Sacrament of Confession and strengthens us in our resolve by the Sacrament of own His Body and Blood in the Mass – the medicine of immortality.     

This is how we allow Him to reign over us, not afraid of His influence over us. For Christ to reign in our minds, it is important that we think with the Church, that we know the teachings Christ has given to her.  For Him to reign in our hearts, our desires must always be purified by His grace, that our disordered cravings and wants are disciplined and held in check. For Christ to reign in our bodies, that we allow His grace to literally move us – using our strength, our efforts and abilities to secure shelter for the homeless, comfort for the sick and hope for those imprisoned by the cruelties of this world. 

Yes, all things are passing - a time when all things will come to a conclusion and Christ will step out of the shadows and reveal himself in glory.  Until that time, let the prayer of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the great nineteenth century convert and priest, guide us gently through the changing scenes and season:

“O Lord support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then Lord, in your mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last.”

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