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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christ IS Our King

Each year we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the Bible call says that we participate in the kingship of Christ.

I have been studying the Kingship of Christ and how it relates to us because we do in fact participate in it. My first thought was how the kings of the earth rule over those in their kingdom by issuing decrees and then they are to be obeyed. This is not how OUR kingship in Christ the King is to be lived out.

Listen to Jesus’ own words:
John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The example that Jesus leaves is this - if God can get on his hands and knees and wash your feet, no one has the right to say that he is better than God and thus doesn’t need to do such a thing.

The Kingship of Christ is really fulfilled in him serving us and pouring his live out for us.

Christ is King - from the cross. It is on the Cross that his Kingship is announced for the whole world - Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.

Now if we are in Christ, we are called to do the same - Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Who is the greatest servant if it is not Christ? God is giving us everything all the time.

What are some practical ways that we can live out our Kingly role?

The first thing that we must do is Make Jesus the King of our everything. It is from Him and his servants the bishops and priests that we receive our marching orders from. Jesus needs to be the King of our Eyes - do we guard what we watch? The King of our Tongue - Do we only say the things Jesus would have us say? The King of our wallet, our households and even our bedrooms. Through Christ we must first rule over ourselves.

The next thing that we must do is be imitators of King Jesus toward our neighbor. This is best expressed in
CCC 786 … [T]he People of God share[s] in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself - SO WE MUST EVANGELIZE - through his death and Resurrection. [Cf. Jn 12:32] Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." [Mt 20:28] For the Christian, "to reign is to serve him," particularly when serving "the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder." [LG 8; Cf. 36] The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.

The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ's priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart? [St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4, 1: PL 54, 149]

You might share this with your priest BEFORE his Homily on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garments of Righteousness - Part 2

Last week I failed to mention the very important story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Again my friend Bob Salmon showed my the great importance of this story.

Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob - Why? - Because Joseph is the son his Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel. Jacob loves Joseph and blesses Joseph with this gift of a many colored coat just because he was born of a woman he loved. My point is that Joseph didn’t DO anything to receive his fathers blessing. The same is true of us, there is nothing we can DO for our initial salvation. Salvation is granted to us as a gift from God.

Now only does Joseph lose his garment, but another garment as we will see. His brothers strip him of his coat and sell him, and with this he loses his freedom. When we sin, we become slaves of sin until we once again turn to the blood of Christ to cover us and set us free.
So Joseph goes down to Egypt where he is working in Potiphers house and climbs in rank and is once again clothed. Now is when he loses his garments a second time. While working in Potiphers house his wife begins to tempt him to an adulterous relationship to no end.
Genesis 39:11-13 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and got out of the house.
Because of this Joseph would once again lose his freedom and be cast into prison, until one day he was blessed and then dressed again in the garments of the Pharaoh.

So we see from that story the significance of loosing your garments goes along with the loss of your freedom.

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND GARMENTS

Jesus tells a parable about a king having a wedding feast for his son. People get invited but they don’t want to come.

Matthew 22:8-14 Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

So, while this guy was in fact invited to the wedding, he chooses to even come to the wedding, but he refused to put on the garments of those at the wedding. There are many levels to this, but I think this is concerning those who want Christianity without Christ. They want the benefits of Christianity without having to actually conform themselves to Christ and this is dangerous. If we want to share in his heavenly blessings we must come to the altar of the Lord with our souls robed in holiness, lest we be cast into Hell for defiling the body and blood of our Lord in communion.

Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, …girded your loins with truth, … the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; … shield of faith, … helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

What about that place in Mark where that disciple runs off without his garments?
During the agony in the garden while Jesus is getting arrested it says:
Mark 14:51-52 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Now, without any reference, Tim Grey (who has as awesome free talk on Mark @ EWTN - see side bar) says that there is a Jewish tradition which says that if you were a priest guarding the temple and you were caught sleeping, that your clothes would be taken from you and burned so that you would have to run home naked and in shame.

Now, Christ is the New Temple and the disciples were suppose to be watching and praying, yet they fell asleep, and this one runs off naked. Revelation speaks somewhat on this same topic when it says:
Revelation 16:15 "Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!"

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Revelation 19:7-8 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Garments of Righteousness Pt 1

For Catholics, clothes play an important role in our lives. They identify whom we serve. Priests and religious wear distinguished garb to represent certain religious orders. In the Liturgy, both in the old and new Covenants, certain articles of clothing were worn on certain days.

What does the Bible say about clothing?

First, I must give credit where credit is due. My friend Bob Salmon really showed me the importance of garments or clothing in Scripture. In the beginning there were no clothes of course:

Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Louis Ginsberg - "Legends of the Jews" has an interesting story:
The first result was that Adam and Eve became naked. Before, their bodies had been ... enveloped with the cloud of glory.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.

So what then do these clothes represent?

Clothes, as will become more clear as we go on, represent righteousness. After Adam and Eve become unrighteous through sin, they try to cover themselves in their own righteousness, but God comes along and makes a sacrifice and covers them in the skins of that sacrifice (prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ.) God himself is both the Priest and Victim and then clothes us with himself.

Everything in the Bible is of course significant and so I can't touch on absolutely everything here but just some highlights.

The next big story is when Jacob clothes himself like his brother Esau (with wool from a lamb) and tricks his father Isaac into giving him the blessing. So because he is clothed like the firstborn son he received the firstborn's inheritance.

St. Paul says this:
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
So, because we are dressed like God’s firstborn Son (Jesus) we too can obtain the inheritance of the firstborn which is eternal life with the Father in heaven.

The next story that stands out to me is with David and Goliath.
David, filled with Zeal, tells Saul that he can defeat the giant Goliath

1 Samuel 17:37 And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

1 Samuel 17:38-39 Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a helmet of bronze on his head, and clothed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword over his armor, and he tried in vain to go, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these; for I am not used to them." And David put them off.

Now, here is an allegorical interpretation of this passage: I think that Saul is trying to trust is his own strength to fight the Philistines, and that his faith is in his armor. He tries to cloth David with that same armor, but David sees that this type of clothing paralyzes him and not only doesn’t protect him, but will make him worse off. So David will put on the armor of the Lord as he will say in Psalm 3:3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Then David is clothed with the Lord’s shield of faith
1 Samuel 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

This type of "clothing" is what brings victory to David, and will bring us victory as well.