Daniel 7:13-14; Ps 93:1-2, 5; Revelation 1:5-8 John 18:33b-37
Why do we end our Liturgical Year with this great feast of the Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe? There are 600 renewal movements that the Vatican has identified throughout the world. These movements are graces of the Holy Spirit to renew and enliven every aspect of our Christian faith. One of these major movements is the Liturgical Renewal. It began with study and various liturgical conferences from 1920 to 1947. As a response, Pope Pius XII wrote his encyclical letter Mediator Dei. It was a blueprint to bring especially the Mass from a personal to a more communal act of worship of God.
Fifty years ago Vatican Council II’s first document was on updating the Liturgy. It moved the Mass from Latin to local languages. It turned the priest around so the Mass became more of a dialogue between God and his people rather than the priest alone praying for the people. From beginning to end, the Mass invites us to listen to God’s Word speaking to us. It empowers and feeds us with the Body and Blood of Jesus and then sends us forth into the world with new power to bring God’s love to others.
In the reforms that followed the Council, we fell more in love with Jesus as we could hear and see exactly what was going on at the altar and have a deeper sense of the core and center of our faith. We can feel more connected to God’s power and plan for us with the expansion of Scripture readings, added Eucharistic prayers and more feasts. With this great feast today we conclude ordinary time with Jesus Christ reigning over all of creation as Lord of heaven and earth.
How is Jesus reigning in heaven? As we read the various visions that St. John the Apostle gave us in the Book of Revelation, we gain a greater understanding of heaven. Look first at chapters 19-22 about heavens walls, gates. Then there is the throne of God the Father and Jesus and those closest to them. Then you will see the wonderful stream of love and the tree of life with its fruit 12 times a year and its healing leaves. Then read chapters 4 to 6, 7, 11:15-19 and 12:1-12 (Mary and the dragon). Notice the glorious singing with no sad songs. So we have a little sense of what we shall be doing in heaven, singing:
"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and who is, and who is to come," Revelations 4:8b. And in verse 11 we read: "Worthy are You, Lord our God to receive glory and honor and power…." We also find a similar Holy, Holy in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of heaven in chapter 6:3.
The shepherds heard the angels singing at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, "Glory to God in the highest." Perhaps we could add this Eucharistic acclamation after the consecration of the bread and wine, to further emphasize what just happened, as the Holy Spirit and the priest, change them into the Body and Blood of Jesus. He is born again to feed us. "Oh, come let us adore Him." Let us join with the angels and saints singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts.”
With so many distractions around us each day, we need God’s grace to help us focus more of Jesus. St. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:5-7:
"Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.”
Again St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:
"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on us what God has prepared for those who love Him. Yet God has revealed (and continues to reveal) this wisdom to us through His Holy Spirit!"
So "holy brothers and sisters, who share a heavenly calling, fix your eyes on Jesus, the apostle and high priest Whom we acknowledge in faith," Hebrews 3:1-2a.
And again in Hebrews 12:1 "…let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who inspires and perfects our faith."
My prayer for all of us is that we get more and more excited about who Jesus is, how much more he wants to pour his love into us, even in the midst of so much bad news around us. As we continue to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy we know his love is being poured out.
Thanksgiving is a time when we as a nation stop our business to give thanks to our loving God for all the blessings he has showered upon us as a nation. Amen.
Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)