+ + + + + + + + + +Reflection on the Sunday Scriptures: November 23, 2014+ + + + + + + + + +

The Universe Turns Upon a Cup of Water Given to the Little Ones

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year A – Sunday, November 23, 2014

During my graduate studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in the late 1980s, I had the privilege of teaching Scripture on several occasions to the Missionaries of Charity at their formation house on the outskirts of Rome. Several times when I was with the sisters, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was visiting the formation community. I will never forget that little, bent-over, Albanian-born woman sitting on the floor of the chapel as I led the sisters in biblical reflections. It was a daunting experience for me to be expounding on Sacred Scripture to someone many considered even back then a living saint; one who, without exegetical skills and ancient biblical languages in her repertoire, understood far better the meaning of God’s Word than I ever would. One evening after I had finished the lecture and was gathering my books together to begin the trip back to the Canadian College in Rome, Mother came over to speak with me. At the end of the conversation, I asked her: “How do you do it day in and day out? How do you deal with the crowds of people trying to see you when you are out in public.” She raised her hand before my face and shook her five fingers at me. “Five words,” she said; “five words: You did it to me.”

“You did it to me.”

separationOfGoats&SheepOn this final Sunday of the liturgical year, also known as the Solemnity of Christ the King, we are presented with the great scene of the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), peculiar to Matthew’s Gospel. The final judgment will accompany the parousia (second coming of Christ) and is the last teaching of Jesus before he goes to Jerusalem to face his crucifixion and death. The stirring refrain of today’s Gospel is found precisely in these words: “You did it to me” (25:40).

The crux of today’s Gospel is not so much trying to identify who are sheep and who are goats. The sheep that are at the Son of Man’s right hand are those that recognized and accepted the messenger and the message. The goats on his left did not recognize or accept the messenger or the message.

Christ the Lord of history and king of the universe will separate the sheep from the goats at the end of time based on whether or not they have accepted the Word of God by accepting the ambassadors who were sent to proclaim that Word. Such acceptance or rejection is ultimately acceptance or rejection of the God who sent Jesus. To reject Jesus the Son is to reject God the Father. To reject a disciple sent by Jesus is to reject Jesus himself.

Inclusion in the Royal Kingdom

The Son who “sits upon his glorious throne with all the nations gathered before him” (25:31-32) is the same one who, at the very peak of his cosmic power, reveals that the universe turns upon a cup of water given to the little ones in his name. Jesus tells us that whenever we practice works of mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, we are doing these things to him. He fully identifies himself with the needy, the marginalized, and the dependent; the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. Everyone is included in the Royal Kingdom of the humble Jesus. His reign completely overturns our notions of earthly kingship. The kingship and royalty of Jesus are of ultimate service, even to the point of laying down his life for others.

The righteous will be astonished that in caring for the needs of those who suffer, they were ministering to the Lord himself (25:37-38). The accursed (25:41) will also be astonished that their neglect of those suffering was neglect of the Lord and they will receive from him a similar fate.

When God will be all in all

In today’s second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians (15:20-26, 28), Paul describes Christ’s relations to his enemies and his Father. Paul’s vision includes cosmic dimensions as he attempts to describe the goal of all history. The reading is theological and Christological, for God is the ultimate agent in and culmination of history. In the end we are all saved by this God who has entered human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. When God finally rules, there will be no further resistance to his saving power. God will be all in all. This is what lies at the heart of the word “subjection” (15:28): that God may fully be God and accomplish his saving acts on our behalf.

Three final thoughts on the kingship of God’s Son

At the end of the liturgical year, and in light of the majestic scene of the final judgment, let us first consider two texts of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. First, from his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011, Porta Fidei, for the Indiction of the Year of Faith:

Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).

The Kingdom of Christ cannot be built by force

Next, let us consider Pope Emeritus Benedict’s moving reflection on Christ’s kingship, spoken on October 26, 2011 during the celebration of the Word held on the eve of the “Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World: Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace” held in Assisi the following day.

In his homily, Pope Emeritus Benedict quoted Zechariah 9, in which God promises salvation through a king:

But the announcement does not refer to a king with human powers and force of arms. It does not refer to a king who dominates with political and military might. This is a gentle king who reigns with humility and gentleness before God and man, a king quite different from the great sovereigns of the earth.

The Apostles recalled the prophet’s words particularly following Christ’s passion, death and resurrection when, […] with the eyes of faith, they reconsidered their Master’s joyful entry into the Holy City. He rode a donkey which had been lent to Him, […] not a horse as the powerful did. He did not enter Jerusalem accompanied by a mighty army of chariots and horsemen. He is a poor king, the king of the poor of God, […] of those who have inner freedom enabling them to overcome the greed and selfishness of the world, of those who know that God alone is their treasure. […] He is a king who will make the chariots and steeds of battle disappear, who will break the weapons of war, a king who brought peace on the Cross, uniting heaven and earth and building a bridge between all mankind. The Cross is the new arch of peace, the sign and instrument of reconciliation, […] the sign that love is stronger that any form of violence or oppression, stronger than death. Evil is overcome through goodness, through love.

The kingdom that Christ inaugurates is universal. The horizon of this poor and meek king is not the territorial horizon of a State, it is the confines of the world. He creates communion. He creates unity. And where do we see His announcement take concrete form today? In the great network of Eucharistic communities covering the earth, wherein the prophecy of Zechariah re-emerges in splendour. […] Everywhere, in all cultures, […] He comes and is present; and by entering into communion with Him, mankind is united into a single body, overcoming divisions, rivalry and rancour. The Lord comes in the Eucharist to divest us of our selfishness, our fixations which exclude others, to make us a single body, a single kingdom of peace in a divided world. […]

How can we build this kingdom of peace in which Christ is king? […] Like Jesus, the messengers of peace of His kingdom must begin a journey. […] They must journey, but not with the might of war or the force of power. […] It is not with power, force or violence that Christ’s kingdom of peace grows, but with the giving of self, with love carried to its extreme consequences, even towards out enemies. Jesus does not conquer the world by force of arms but by the power of the Cross, which is the true guarantee of victory.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Finally, let us remember the life of a young martyred Mexican Jesuit who was deeply devotmiguelPROed to Christ the King: Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. (1891-1927). Born January 13, 1891, at Guadalupe Zacatecas, Mexico, Miguel “Miguelito” Pro was the son of a mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother. From his earliest days, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes, which he kept all of his life. At age 20, he entered the Jesuit novitiate and shortly thereafter was exiled because of the Mexican Revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua, and Belgium, where he was ordained a priest in 1925. Father Pro suffered from chronic stomach ailments and when after several operations his health did not improve, his Jesuit superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in 1926 despite the horrible religious persecution underway in Mexico.

Churches were closed and priests fled into hiding. Father Pro spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to Mexican Catholics. He strengthened people in their faith and was deeply involved in serving the poor in Mexico City. He was known for wearing all kinds of disguises that enabled him to work quietly among the poor. Miguel would dress as a beggar and go during the night to baptize infants, bless marriages, and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics. When going to wealthy neighbourhoods to provide for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable executive with a fresh flower on his lapel. His was the stuff of a modern spy movie or award winning television series! However in all that he did, Fr. Pro always remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

He was falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president and declared a wanted man. Handed over to the police, he was sentenced to death without recourse to any legal process. On the day of his execution by a firing squad, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, Viva Cristo Rey, “Long live Christ the King!”

The image of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta standing before me and raising those five fingers before my face is engraved on my memory, especially when I listen to today’s Gospel of the last judgment. “You did it to me.” The image of Blessed Miguel Pro, boldly kneeling before his executioners and forgiving them, before proclaiming the real kingship of the non-violent Lord is also deep within me.

Vindicated in the court of heaven

When we listen attentively to today’s first reading from the prophet Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17, and today’s powerful Gospel, how could we not have the images of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Blessed Miguel Pro before our eyes, as well as all of those women and men like them throughout history who tend the Lord’s scattered sheep, rescuing them when it was cloudy and dark, pasturing them, and giving them rest? Their work of shepherding, binding up the sick and healing them gives flesh and blood to today’s Gospel. “You did it to me.” Today we have the consolation that our acts of mercy toward God’s little ones are already vindicated in the court of heaven, because God sees everything from above, and is the ultimate beneficiary of any of our poor yet sincere efforts to care for the needy, the marginalized, and the dependent; the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned citizens of God’s kingdom.

Christ the King

Our faith is rooted firmly in Jesus of Nazareth who was declared a king at his execution. He was not a king who craved for power, nor a dictator who dominated and trampled underfoot those who encountered him. In his kingdom, his poor subjects were cherished and loved; they were his friends, the little ones, his brothers and sisters who partook in his very life. Worldly kingdoms will come and go. The kingdom of Jesus Christ will never pass away. Together with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Blessed Miguel Pro of Mexico, let us acclaim our King: Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King, now and forever.

[The readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King are: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15:-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46.]

It’s Official! Pope to Travel to USA for World Meeting of Families

Rome, Italy (November 17, 2014) – In remarks offered today in Rome, Pope Francis formally announced his intention to attend the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, set to be held September 22-27, 2015. This visit will mark his first to the United States as pope. He will be only the fourth reigning Pontiff to visit our nation in its history.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., and a delegation of World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 organizers were present for the announcement, which the Holy Father made at the opening of the Humanum Colloquium. Also present were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop Jean Lafitte, and Monsignor Carlos Simon Vaszquez of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is the co-sponsor of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput said, “I am overjoyed by Pope Francis’ announcement that he will join with us for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year. A hallmark of his papacy has been a keen focus on the many challenges that families face today globally. His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering.”

“As I’ve said many times before, I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways. We look forward to Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts.”

Detailed plans for Pope Francis’ visit have not yet been finalized and are expected to be released in spring or summer of 2015. However, it is expected that the Holy Father will visit Philadelphia September 25 – 27, 2015 to participate in the closing events of the Eighth World Meeting of Families. These events include the Festival of Families, an intercultural celebration of family life around the world, which would be held on Saturday, September 26, and a Papal Mass to be held on Sunday, September 27. Both of these events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Philadelphia and will be open to the public.

The World Meeting of Families is a triennial global event that seeks to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society. Being held in the United States for the first time ever, the official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.”

For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 and Pope Francis’ accompanying visit to Philadelphia, please visit www.worldmeeting2015.org.

About the World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.

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Contact
Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications
215-587-3747

World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia, 2015: NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION

November 10, 2014

P R E S S  R E L E A S E 

World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Opens Registration and Announces Keynote Speakers & Content  

Baltimore, MD (November 10, 2014) – In remarks offered today at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall Assembly, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. announced that registration for the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, which is being held September 22-25, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA, is now officially open. Individual registrants and families can register via Worldmeeting2015.org/Plan-your- visit/Register for the four day Congress at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and also book hotel rooms for Congress days through the website.  Multiple registration and pricing options are available, allowing delegates to select a package that best suits their needs.  There is also an option available for registrants to seek out local host families through Homestay.com via http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/plan-your-visit/places-stay/.
The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 will offer an Adult Congress and a Youth Congress for ages 6- 17. There will also be a licensed daycare for children under the age of six. The Adult Congress, for ages 18 and older, will consist of keynote presentations and breakout sessions that address the many ways in which families can strengthen their bonds, especially in the face of the significant challenges facing the family globally in the 21st century.  The Youth Congress will provide interactive programs designed for young people to play, listen, serve, build, and embrace the mission of love in a family.

“The World Meeting of Families will deal with a wide range of family issues where our faith is both needed and tested,” said Archbishop Chaput at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Fall General Assembly. “These are matters that affect families not only here in the United States but on a global scale. So we want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media, but on things like the family and poverty, the family and addiction, the family and children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, the effect of divorce and co-parenting, health and wellness as building blocks to preserving the family, creating real intimacy between husband and wife, the challenges of raising children, the role of grandparents, the parish as a support community for families, and similar themes.  And we want to involve the whole community in this celebration, which is why we’ve included Jewish, Mormon, Muslim and Protestant presenters on issues that we all share – regardless of confessional divides.”

CONTACTS: Ken Gavin Archdiocese of Philadelphia kgavin@archphila.org
Meg Kane  Brian.  mkane@briancom.com

In addition to announcing the opening of registration, Archbishop Chaput also spoke about the impressive roster of influential leaders and scholars  that the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 will bring together to discuss the critical issues facing the family worldwide. Nearly 100 renowned speakers are expected to present and facilitate conversation among delegates. From Baptist to Jewish to Lutheran, 24 percent of the Congress presenters will represent other faith traditions and 30 percent of presenters are from outside of North America. Leading the program are keynote addresses from Father Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Rector of Mundelein Seminary, and host of CATHOLICISM; His Eminence, Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston; Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law; Dr. Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin and Gabriela N. de la Guardia, renowned Panamanian doctors; His Eminence, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; and His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, Archbishop Emeritus of Conakry, Guinea.

      Although a few breakout session speakers are still being confirmed, the majority of speakers and presentations for the Congress has been finalized and can be reviewed at http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/about-the-event/speakers/ .

“The 2015 World Meeting of Families will welcome a most remarkable and dynamic group of speakers as we aimed to bring people together in faith and share a common message of love while also giving comfort and encouragement to those who may be struggling,” said Dr. Mary Beth Yount, World Meeting of Families Director of Content and Programming. “When developing the programming and educational sessions, one of our goals was to create a Congress inclusive of people of all ages, all walks of life, all cultures and even other faiths so that every person might leave the conference feeling inspired by new ideas to incorporate into his/her family life. Through the grace of God and the messages shared during the Congress, we hope to reaffirm the importance of the family and strengthen its bonds on a global scale.”

     As the world’s largest family gathering, the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 is expected to bring together 10,000 – 15,000 delegates from more than 150 nations in faith and celebration. The Congress will provide delegates the opportunity to share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers during daily Mass, devotions and breakout sessions.  All sessions will focus on the myriad issues facing today’s global families, including financial crises/poverty, blended families, disabilities, addiction, divorce, and interfaith marriage, with speakers from the Pontifical Council for the Family, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Foundation for Family and Futures, National Catholic Partnership on Disability, Catholic Relief Services, among others. Rooted in the 2015 Congress’ theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive,” the catechetical content and programming will emphasize the impact of the love and life of families in society.

     For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September, please visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org.  An online retail store, featuring t-shirts, hats, pins and other small mementos, is also open and can be accessed at http://wmof.myshopify.com/.  You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).

     About World Meetings of Families Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015).  Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.

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Click here to view the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 “Schedule at a Glance”.

Prepare for the World Meeting of Families! Special Advent Mass

On the First Sunday of Advent, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. will bless and distribute small replicas of the official World Meeting of Families Holy Family iconic painting to every household in attendance. Mass begins at 6:30pm and will be preceded by a Holy Hour for the Family and Confessions at 5:30pm. All families and households are invited! Sunday, November 30, 2014, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia. For more information, visit PhillyEvang.org/wmof.


 

Host a Family

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Welcome Visitors with Hospitality

Many of our visiting families are traveling long distances to reach the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015. As an affordable alternative to hotel accommodations and to support the volume of people coming to the Philadelphia area, we are offering families located in the Philadelphia region the opportunity to open their doors to our visitors.


Host Families can host visitors in a spare bedroom, a vacated apartment, or any amenable facility. Visiting individuals and families can then search the Host Family database to find hosts to be matched too. When registering as a Host Family, you will include information on your hosting situation (bedrooms, family hobbies, pets, allergies, access to public transportation, etc.). Additionally, each visiting family will pay a nightly fee to the Host Family. The Host Family can use that money to offset costs, buy breakfast each day, donate to the visiting family, or in any other way desired. Your role, as a Host Family, is pivotal in enabling many families to make this trip safe and affordable.

If you would like to open your home to a World Meeting of Families Visitor, you can register at https://worldmeeting2015.homestaymanager.com/host/sign_up  or email us at host@WorldMeeting2015.org.

Once Host registration has opened, you will be notified so that you can enter your information into a private database which will be used only for the World Meeting of Families event.