GROW: The paradoxical ways we have come to understand Jesus can give us spiritual whiplash. He is both a tender and caring shepherd of sheep and one who sends strong rams and goats to the eternal fire; the executed human and divine man who came into full resurrected glory. He is God incarnate into human history and born in a manger; the servant-leader; the one who is both God and man. This is the beauty of what we call the Paschal Mystery – that the Son of God came into the world and by his life, death, and resurrection he has reconciled us to the Father, and has redeemed us. He saves us from the death of sin. As Catholics we are comfortable with paradox: We are inhabitants of a kingdom of God that is already (here) but not yet (fully realized); we are both an Easter people and we live in a world of Good Fridays. So when Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading that whatever we do to the least of people, we do to Christ himself and we will reap our actions in the fullness of that kingdom, we understand that he is a king unlike any other king. He cares not for pomp and circumstance, but wants to ensure that all – even the least among us – are given his gifts to share. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe celebrates that we have a king who cares more for us than anyone on earth could ever care for us, and we are blessed to be able to love and serve him in return.
GROW: When we think of gifts, we may picture a child eagerly ripping into wrapping paper on a birthday or at Christmas. Oh, the anticipation and the joy seen through a child’s eyes! In contemplating today’s Scriptures, it occurs to me that the gifts God has given to us should fill us with the same joy and sense of gratitude as that child. Although there are many facets to the parable of the talents which Jesus tells his disciples in today’s Gospel, what stands out to me comes at the very beginning: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.” No small thing to be entrusted with the master’s possessions! In the same way, God entrusts us with his gifts – they are all we have and all we are. And, like the master in the parable, God expects us to use our gifts and talents to build his kingdom here on earth – to multiply his goodness in the world.READ MORE
GROW: I’ll always remember that first Easter after my Dad passed away. It was when the promise of the resurrection truly hit home. Sure, I had always believed in heaven and that everyone had the possibility of spending eternity there, but until my Dad died, it had all been theoretical. Now, it was personal. Someone I loved deeply had left this world, but because of Christ’s sacrifice, he had the opportunity to go to paradise, someplace where we will hopefully be reunited someday. I believe that’s what St. Paul is talking about in today’s second reading. We do “not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” We have hope! We have hope for our family, for our friends – for our very selves! – that we will rise again and spend eternity with the Lord and with those we love. Paul writes elsewhere, “Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) The sting of death is sin, Paul says, but Christ has won the victory over it. In being baptized into Christ, we share in that victory, and we are inheritors of the promise of eternal life that comes from death’s defeat.READ MORE