November 22, 2015 The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Reading I Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm 93:1-2, 5
Reading II Revelations 1:5-8
Alleluia Mark 11:9-10
Gospel John 18:33-37
To what kingdom do you and I belong? Do we understand the requirements for that kingdom? For 52 weeks we have been talking about it. But do we really understand? It’s not about one person, it’s about every single person in the whole world so they are set free and surrounded with unconditional love, and that we will understand that we are so dependent on one another.
Last night I had the pleasure of going to the Quincy Symphony for one of their evenings of music. Ben Bumbry was honored for his many years of service to our community, and he and his band performed with the orchestra. A symphony orchestra is a very good example of what the Kingdom is all about. You have 50 or 60 people performing together, but they need one person, the conductor, who knows when to call them and when to lead them. On their own, each one has a gift; but, on their own, he or she is just one person sitting on the stage. But when all 60 of them come together and they follow the conductor, they all are in rhythm and each one knows when to play his or her instrument. They know when to reach that crescendo and, all of a sudden, everyone sitting there can feel, and hear, and understand what it’s like when they all play together.
If one person is not paying attention he can mess up the entire piece. Jesus is telling us, “You know, there is a certain amount of unselfishness in every musician who plays in an orchestra.” It’s not the moment for one of the musicians to stick up a placard and say, “My name is Mike Kuse. I play the trombone and I hope you all see and hear me.” Instead, all the musicians just sit there quietly waiting for the conductor’s touch. And that touch changes everything.
When we translate that into our own experience of God’s Kingdom, it’s the same way. Benjamin is so unique, and there is not anyone else who even comes close to the image of God. So as we baptize him, we are asking him to become a part of this community and we are telling him that, as he grows up, there is always someone who is orchestrating in his life — and that someone is God.
When God looks at you and says, “Please stand up. I’m sending you now to do something you have never done before. Or, maybe I am asking you to do something today you’ve done many times. But someone needs you.”
We bring that alive every Sunday when we come to Mass. We are asked to give different gifts. If you are asked to cantor, probably a lot of people would say, “Well, I’m not going to get up there and cantor — I can’t sing.” And Jesus answers, “You can sing because I gave you a voice. You just have to use it, and after a while, you will become comfortable with the songs.” The choir comes every Thursday night and practices, and when we come to Mass we pick up on their leadership.
Have you ever noticed that there are certain songs that everybody knows like “Amazing Grace” and when the congregation sings this hymn, the song comes alive? Jesus says, “That is what my Kingdom is all about. It’s about everybody coming alive.” No one is left out and the goal is for every person to reach his or her potential. If you help everyone reach their potential, then someone is tapping you on your shoulder so that you, also, will reach your potential. If everybody in the world played only the trombone, the world would be a mess. But because we all are different and we have different gifts, we have the ability to just listen and pick up on each other.
For Thanksgiving there will be families in our parish who will be traveling, as well as many who will stay right here in Quincy — but people will be coming together and they come together as a family. It’s not about the food. The food is always delicious and plentiful — it’s about family coming together. Our families are made up of unique persons who are special because when they, as children, were growing up they got to argue and fight and love and do the whole mess. Because of that each one of us begins to realize that there is more to life than just me, and there is more to life than just you. It’s all about us.
This Sunday is the end of the liturgical year and next Sunday, the first Sunday in Advent, we begin the new year. So for 52 weeks we listen to the Scriptures and we break open the Word together. For 52 weeks there are different Scriptural cycles but we all listen together to the same thing. And every Sunday when we leave church we are told, “Now go out and proclaim the Gospel and live the truth.” But remember, it’s not all about me. It’s not all about you. It’s about us. That is what makes a community. That is what makes a parish click.
We use fancy words. We talk about stewardship, we talk about discipleship, we talk about prayer, about hospitality, we talk about service, we talk about faith formation. These are only words until you and I realize they come alive when we begin to share our faith and love. And when we do, it shows that we care, and, that we are being taken care of.
So today may you and I think about how lucky we are to know that we are loved and that God is calling us to share that love in many mysterious ways. He brought Cruz and Emily together and because of that love for one another, they can now gaze on Benjamin. In a few minutes we will be baptizing Benjamin and I will ask all of you: Are we ready to help these three people grow in love, feel important, and know that they don’t have a care in the world — because everyone here is picking up the entire experience.
How do you feel when you are alone? How do you feel when you are in the midst of family and friends? It is good sometimes to be alone. But I think everyone here would have to say, “I’m at my best when I am surrounded by family and friends and a parish family. Because I know that I am completely accepted with unconditional love and I realize that I have certain gifts that I can pour into the mixture.”
And so that’s why we say, that’s why we pray, that’s why we love, that’s why we need each other, and that is why we take care of each other. Without that love, we are lost. With it, we are the wealthiest people in the whole world.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0020)