[Homily (reconstructed): Martinez Reunion, 1 Dec. 2012, 4:30 pm]
It is wonderful that we have been able to gather in this beautiful venue atop the Emer Tower as the sun sets over Metro Manila!
We gather together in the wake of the Church’s celebration of the great Feast of Christ the King, and on the eve of its new liturgical year.
As at every Eucharist we gather together in a sense of deep gratitude. Even as we appreciate the beauty of this setting sun, and with one another stop to “smell the flowers,” to notice the mystery of a simple old rock, and marvel at the awesomeness of the stars, we thank God for his gift of our lives together as a family and for the many, many blessings we have received in this life. Those blessings may appear as the gift of health in our families, or the gift of healing among loved ones, the prosperity of our businesses, the success of our professions, the plenty on our tables, the education of our children, and the joy with which we have been allowed to live and share life. Here, each member family of this clan knows the marvels of the blessings bestowed on it by God making the lease we have in life so precious. Time is limited. As “our time” has been good, we are grateful.
On this day, even as we feel gratitude for “our time,” we are reminded to consider: time ends. The world comes to an end. Time is precious. At its end, the Lord comes.
That is certainly the message of the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King that merges into today’s Good News: at the end of time, at the end of this world, “…they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and with great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 22:27-28). That is similar to the great proclamation of by Matthew where Christ the King comes in final judgment to separate the goats from the sheep (cf. Mt. 25).
That is not necessarily terrifying news. It is presented as Good News. In the end, justice is established. The criterion for just judgment is clear. Not how many houses have I built, how many churches have I donated to the church, how many elections I have won, how many children and grandchildren have I brought into this world, but the simple consideration, “whatever you have done for one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, that you have done for me” (cf. Mt. 25, 40).
With today’s Gospel is a warning: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise, like a trap” (Lk 21:34). That is certainly not meant to throw cold water on our celebration; celebrations of life and God’s many gifts in life are not only legitimate, they are necessary. But our Gospel for today does warn against an abiding attitude in life that is focused on pleasure that moves from occasional escapes from life’s responsibilities to total denial of any responsibility. It warns against a “drowsiness” that is a chronic numbness to the demands made on us by the poor, a life attitude that is uncaring and devoid of compassion. Here, “the poor” need not be the poor of the squatters’ areas nor the wretched poor of the countryside. They can be the persons in urgent need right within the ambit of our influence. For those whose life has taken such a care-less course, even a warning is Good News. It is an appreciation of how precious time is, of how we are masters of our time, and of how urgently in time course changes can be undertaken. Freely.
This is Good News, not bad. “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land…”(Jer 33:14-15). For us sinners, the Lord raises up for us a Messiah in justice. Jesus who is our King and just Judge, is also our redeemer, the fullest expression of divine compassion.
St. Paul speaks to us when he says, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…” (1Thess. 3:12). Love “for one another,” not just “for myself” and for my selfish needs which has the power to rip families apart! And “love for all,” not just love for our family interests and our shared concerns as a family, but love even beyond the family “for all” – which has the power to distinguish us in freedom and service! Love that allows us to labor for the good of all – as indeed is imperative in a society ruled by Christ the King! As Paul spoke of his love for us, may we all love each other, strengthening each others hearts, that we might be blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus. (cf. 1 Thess.4.2)