by Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J.
“ALL POWERFUL AND ever living God… you anointed Jesus Christ, Your only Son, with the oil of gladness, as the eternal priest and universal king…that He may present to You a kingdom of truth and life …a kingdom of holiness and grace …a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” (Today’s Preface)
As Ordinary Time comes to a close, and we stand on the threshold of another Advent, we praise Jesus, the Christ, Who has and does redeem our world. Mid-week as we gather to give thanks for God’s blessings and Sunday as we begin a new Church year, we seek and await Jesus Christ’s coming again in glory. This feast repeats for our very broken world the promise and fullness of the Easter Vigil: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
At our own baptism, at every Easter vigil, at every Eucharist and every time we profess our faith, we are reminded that we, too, have been anointed, and that we, too, are a priestly people and share a royal inheritance. Through Jesus Christ’s ultimate gift, we inherit redemption, forgiveness of sins, “holiness, grace, justice love and peace.”
Today’s reminder, however, vividly shows us that the way of our King is a reconciling “by the blood of His cross.”
During this liturgical year, we have prayed with and followed Jesus through the lens of Luke’s Gospels. We have seen this saving shepherd, teacher, healer, leader (king) and compassionate servant through Luke’s eyes. From Nazareth to Jerusalem, from the prophecy of Simeon, through the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter, from being lifted up as Prince of Peace to a mockery as King and a crowning with thorns; with every healing and forgiveness, with every parable and teaching, with every challenge of injustice, every action of tender care and commission for service, Luke proclaims the message of Jesus Christ. In living color, he proclaims Jesus’ life as the way, the truth and the light.
A Clearer Truth?
We will not encounter these Gospels of Luke at Sunday worship for another two years so we might ask ourselves today: Has the truth of my baptismal anointing become clearer? Has my heart and spirit more steadily chosen light over darkness? Have I, or better yet, do I accept the challenge, the price and self-emptying which Jesus’ way so often requires?
During this year, Luke’s lens has held up to our ponderings and personal responses a way of being which is healing, reconciling, compassionate, nurturing, instructive, encouraging and inclusive.
During this Year of Mercy, our Holy Father Francis has modeled, challenged, prayed and spoken a message of servanthood mercy for all of us. The year has been an outpouring of that message – mercy – and a call for all of us. We have been anointed; we are the inheritors; we share the flesh, bone and nature of the Christ Who became one of us so that we might become one with God.
Paul reminds us, with not just nice poetry, but with challenging reality that we are “delivered from darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.” We’ve been anointed to be the face of Christ Jesus, to be messengers of mercy in this world.
Years ago, I read and heard the letter “g” dropped from the word “kingdom” so as to offer another view of God’s reign. We saw and heard of “kin-dom” – as one of relationship and membership, as that oneness for which Jesus came. All creation are “kin,” all caregivers for this world and universe are “kin,” “all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible”… created through the power of God for the glory of God are “kin.” We are “kin” to each other and to all others.
Today, the Year of Mercy comes to a close but please God, not our remembrance and doing of its graced call and command. Our world and all of creation so thirst for that life-giving and compassionate mercy. Jesus the Christ, the firstborn of all creation, shows Himself as King and reigns in mercy from a cross. From this cross He once more models for us a way, a truth, a light. Jesus cries to His Creator, prays for forgiveness for those who mock Him, welcomes sinners into His “kin-dom,” and for our salvation and redemption pours forth His blood and water to give birth to a church. Is not this cross the original font of our baptism?
As we await His coming again in glory let us remember the lessons of this Church year and this Holy Year of Mercy. We and our world so need such memories. When tempted, as we view the state of our world, to shake our fist at Heaven and cry out “God, why don’t You do something?” – let us hear in our hearts, minds and spirits: “I did, I sent my chosen One and I created you.” (adapted from Matthew West’s song, “Do Something”).
We are a priestly people, ours is a royal inheritance. We are saved and called to be the face of Christ’s mercy. May God help us. May we pray for each other. Blessed Thanksgiving!
Readings for The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
2 Samuel 5: 1-3
Psalm 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Colossians 1: 12-20
Luke 23: 35-43
Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J., a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator, is a pastoral associate/family minister at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.