|11/17/2016 9:00:00 AM|
Our heart, God's throne
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGERWe are drawing to the close of both the liturgical year and the "Year of Mercy" that the universal Church has been observing.
Last Sunday, while closing the "holy door" at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, we consecrated ourselves to the Divine Mercy, so our hearts could now become "doors of mercy" for our neighbor.
On Sunday, Nov. 20, Pope Francis will celebrate the conclusion of this extraordinary Year of Mercy at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. Just around the corner, on Nov. 27, is the first Sunday of Advent: the start of a new year for our journey of faith through salvation history.
The question at the end of the Year of Mercy is the same question we ask as a new liturgical year begins: Who is the center of your life? Who is the king of your heart?
The feast of Christ the King (or "Christ the King Sunday," as this last Sunday of the liturgical year is called) is all about spiritual focus. Who or what is at the center of our radar screen? To what or to whom are we giving homage, praise and glory?
Before answering too quickly, it is worth asking how in the world one might be able to even make a response. After all, most of us are involved in so many activities, with so many demands on our time, talents and resources, that it seems difficult to know at the beginning of any day where we might be at day's end.
Yet time itself is a good measure of who or what is running our life. How much of the time is our attention, mind and heart focused at all on anything or anyone? If so, what or whom is it called?
As a pastor of souls, I can only hope and pray that, for you and me, that focus -- that calm in the middle of the storm - is the Lord, and that His name is Jesus Christ, our King!
Jesus does not really take up a lot of space when we let Him be our life's center. He is, if anything, more of an enabler who helps us get things done than a party-pooper who rains on our parade. Our God is a God of "yes," not "no;" a Creator and a Savior, not a destroyer of hopes and dreams. Doesn't He deserve to be treated as our God and King if that is, in reality, who He is?
It is true, Jesus has His own reality: He is who He is, regardless of the time or attention we pay to Him. He will not go away or stop being our only hope for a future, even if we get stuck in muck of our history of sin and failure. So long as we get caught up in the maze of our anxieties, fears, attitudes and addictions, He will not stand by idly as only a spectator, like the world tends to do when observing -- reporting and documenting -- a tragedy or disaster.
This King, unlike any other the world has ever known, gets down and deep into the lives of His disciples. He is the Good Shepherd who wears the smell of His sheep, the carpenter's son whose hands are splintered by the wood of the cross He carries, nailed to it by the blasphemies committed against our humanity -- by ourselves and others.
Christ the King is the God who dies for us; His throne is the cross on which we hung Him. Will we let Him in as the center of our life, as our heart's hope? Is something or someone else, some pretender or imposter, usurping His rightful place?
It comes down to this: Let Jesus be our King and know the peace that the world cannot and will never give us, or go on longing and searching for some idol and spend an eternity groping in the darkness of a living hell where the heart never finds rest or solace.
"Peace I give you," Jesus said. "Peace is my farewell to you." As He prepares his disciples for His final passage -- which will become a violent one -- He wants to reassure them that they will be at peace if they remain faithful to Him as Lord and Savior.
It is not just a wish; it's a promise and a guarantee! Our King will never leave us orphans -- if we let Him enter and take His place on the throne of our hearts.
(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)
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