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Sunday Readings for Nov. 21, 2010 (34C)
By Fr. Joseph Pellegrino
I want to begin this Sunday by sharing a story about a teacher.
This is a true story, at least according to James S. Hewitt. A retired teacher decided to volunteer some time tutoring children in a local children’s hospital. She was given the name and room number of a nine year old. There was also a note saying that the boy’s class in school was studying nouns and adverbs. The tutor got hold of her fourth grade material and headed over to the hospital. She was shocked to find that the boy was in the burn unit. She almost turned around and went home, but she got up her courage and went inside. He looked even worse than she feared. “Hi,” she said, “I’ll be your teacher while you’re here. It’s important that you learn about nouns and adverbs.” And she went right into the lesson. When she finished, she said she’d be back the next week. And she hurried away.
A few days later the teacher received a call from the boy’s mother asking if she would be coming for a lesson that day. Thinking that she had really done a poor job with the child and that the boy’s mother would rather he be left alone, the lady apologized for her nervousness and said that she would certainly understand if the boy’s Mom would rather she didn’t return. “No, no,” said the Mom, “You have it all wrong. I don’t know what you said to my son, but since your visit he has really been fighting hard to respond to his treatment. It seems that he has finally decided to live.”
The teacher returned the next day and found the child with a therapist and his mother. He was doing his best to cooperate with the therapist. When the boy saw the teacher he said to his mother, “I know I’m going to live. They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a kid who’s dying, would they?”
He has given us hope that we will live. God wouldn’t send his Son if we were a lost cause. He wouldn’t make Him a King if that King were to have no subjects. He wouldn’t allow him to die on the cross if He didn’t realize that some of us would call out to him with our lives, “Jesus, remember us, when you come into your kingdom.” Modern day prophets of doom who see negative in every aspect of life have given up on society. But Jesus has not given up on us. He refuses to give up. He is the King who loves his subjects. He loves them to death.
That’s the story and its teaching. Now I would like to talk about goals and dreams.
The only goal that matters, the only dream that matters is the dream of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and our participation in this Kingdom. This dream includes the purpose for our lives, the formation of a community of God’s love that makes life meaningful. The community of love includes reverence and respect for the presence of the Lord in our families, in each individual in the family, and in each individual in the world.
All other goals and dreams are transitory and illusory. All other goals, no matter how important they may seem at the time, will pass away. For example, political seasons come and go, thanks be to God. Some of the candidate lose. They, and the people on their staffs worked hard and sacrificed much to fulfill the dream of their man or woman taking a position of leadership in Congress, or perhaps in the Statehouse or the governor’s mansion. But they lose and there is nothing left save the tears and the wondering where the campaign went wrong. All the work, all the dreams, were abruptly ended when the final vote tally became official. The dreams are gone.
Some people’s dreams are caught up in business. Some people devote not just their careers, but their lives to forming a successful enterprise. No sacrifice is too great, no obstacle too difficult, no day too long. Their operation becomes one of the top companies in the field. They have recognized the American dream: security and stability are yours if you are willing to work for them. And then, in one of those complex Wall Street maneuvers, their company is sold to an international conglomerate that coldly sells off the assets and lays off the workers. In the blink of an eye, the dreams of a lifetime are wiped out forever.
Some people’s dreams are wrapped up in the good days that lay ahead in retirement. They work hard to save for that glorious time. They move from the only area of the country they had ever lived in to come to the Florida sun. They sell the house that they raised their children in so they can build their dream house overlooking the Gulf, or the golf course. But before they can feel comfortable in their new homes sickness and death robs them of their dreams.
The last Sunday of the Church year challenges us to decided: What are the dreams that really matter? What are the values and principles that we are willing to fight for? What hopes are we willing to believe in enough to sacrifice ourselves for?
Our baptism into the life of Christ was and continues to be a bold statement to the world: Jesus is Lord and King of our lives. We dream His dreams. We share His hopes. We believe that nothing, not even death, can steal the dream of his Kingdom from us.
He has not given up His hope for us. We cannot give up our participation in His dream.
The Solemnity of Christ the King is not just the conclusion of the church year, it is a summary of our lives as Christians:
His dreams are our dreams. His hope is our hope. His present is our future.