Second Sunday of Advent
The following is a reflection from a guest author.
A young girl hears the voice of an angel and trembles.
What can these words mean, “Hail, full of grace,”
Who can be graced before the mighty God?
Who can stand in purity and innocence?
What is this, how can that be
To mother the Living God:
Bear in her womb the Lord of all creation?
In silence the Word came down,
In silence the Word was made flesh,
In silence the Virgin received,
In silence heaven kissed the earth,
In silence the Presence grew
In silence the Word came forth.
The voice of God is heard over the ages,
Who will mother my Son,
Who will now bring Him forth?
From every land and nation they are invited,
“Be still and know that I am God.”
In silence the Word will come forth.
In silence He can be received,
In silence He will kiss the heart,
In silence His presence will grow,
In silence the Word will come forth upon the earth.
Who will be silent to receive Him?
Today is the feast of Jesus Christ , King of the Universe. It marks the end of the Church’s liturgical year of 2019 and it ushers in Advent, which not only begins the new liturgical year but also is the season of immediate preparation for Christmas.
It’s an odd holy day, isn’t it? We live in a nation that is rooted in a rebellion against a British government then headed by King George III, the great, great, great, great grandfather of the present Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II. Yet, many of us are still mesmerized by the activities, travails and adventures of George’s present day relatives. Prince Charles and Camilla, William and Kate Middleton, Harry and Meghan are names
familiar to everyone in the country.
So are we to view Jesus’ kingship in the way we view the British, or for that matter, the Spanish or Dutch or Danish or any of the modern royal families? Even when the feast day was inaugurated by Pius XI in 1925, many of the remaining royal families were losing their political power. So where do we go?
The readings give us a hint. The first is taken from the Old Testament Book of Samuel. After the death of the first king of Israel, Saul and his son, Jonathan, the Israelites declare David as their king because he is “their bone and flesh”. He is one with the people and he is anointed to shepherd them. The job of a shepherd is to lead his flock away from predators and into verdant fields replete with clean flowing streams. So in the dream of God, the ideal king is related to the people and acts as their shepherd.
Many centuries later, St. Paul writing to the Church he founded at Colossae, indicates that God’s Son, like a shepherd, will lead His people into “…the inheritance of the holy ones in the light”. (Colossians 1: 12-20 ). This Shepherd is the image of the invisible God, yet everything was created through Him and He is before all else. He is the head of the church, the gathering of His disciples; He restores life through His resurrection and establishes peace through the perfect sacrifice of Himself for our sake.
That sacrifice of self is the topic of the excerpt from the Gospel of St. Luke. Jesus’ enemies sneer at him while He endures the agony of the cross. Even one of the two men executed with him joins in the mockery. Yet the other condemned man intervenes. He acknowledges that Jesus is innocent and has been condemned unjustly. He utters the universal prayer: “Jesus, remember Me when You come into Kingdom.” (Luke 23:35-43). That man becomes the first “canonized” saint! His presence in heaven is assured when Jesus responds: “Amen I say to you, this day you will be with Me in paradise.”
So then Jesus is a king in very specific ways. He is the Good Shepherd, watching out for His sheep. He shares the nature of the flock. He shares their humanity. But while sharing their humanity, He is the image of the invisible God! Sharing our humanity He too dies, and dies in a particularly hideous way. Through the Resurrection that follows that death, Jesus invites us to share the very light of God and in doing so becomes head of a new people united in His cause. A people, who, like the thief on the cross, are also sinners, but who pray that He will remember us when He comes into His kingdom. We are the people who yearn to hear the words that the “good” thief heard: “Amen (Yes or so be it!) I say to you, this day you will be with Me in paradise”. Implicitly in his death throes, the good thief has acknowledged Jesus’ kingship. He voices our desire that we be counted among the citizens of that kingdom!