Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | November 22/23, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the firist and Gospel readings.
Last week marked one of the most frightening moments of my teaching career.
I was out watching our eighth graders shoot off bottle rockets when suddenly a red sedan comes squealing into our parking lot closely pursued by a police car.
Before my brain had time to register what was happening, cops were jumping out of their cars with guns drawn as I had 30 students outside in the potential line of fire.
All of my emergency training kicked in as I screamed at the students to get down behind a hill. I have never seen them move so fast.
And yet, even with all of our preparation, with all of our training. At the end of the day, we got lucky.
The suspects surrendered quietly.
And our students were soon back on the field finishing up their experiments.
I couldn’t help but replay that event over and over again in my head. And I just kept coming back to the one basic fact that I didn’t want to accept.
Ultimately, I had so little control.
Despite all of the work I have done to keep my kids safe and shield them from the dangers of the world, I couldn’t stop the outside world from driving right through our gates.
I was forced to acknowledge once again that this world can be a very dark place.
It is a reality that many of us are all too familiar with
For we see the darkness manifested in our own lives and swirling all around us.
It could be when we find ourselves caught in addiction, oscillating between denial and despair.
It could be when the darkness seems embodied in the one we loved who has twisted that love against us. The spouse who batters us, the sibling who abuses us, the friend who betrays us, the mother who abandons us.
It could be the darkness of our own shame over what we have done. Over the sins that we have committed. The abortion we’ve had. The relationship that ended with our infidelity. The child we bullied. The wounds we created with our callous remarks and biting tongue.
It could be the darkness that comes with facing our own mortality. The fears and diminishment that come with the diagnosis of cancer or liver failure, AIDS or dementia.
Or it could be the darkness of a world that has seemingly gone mad . . . when children shoot one another and places of worship are bombed, when little ones go to bed hungry and professing one’s faith becomes a crime, when hate and violence become the tools by which cultures and peoples approach one another.
No matter what form the darkness may take, we all have those moments when we must face that utter feeling of powerlessness. We lose control and find ourselves lost. Crying out in the darkness.
And in our 1st reading, we hear our answer.
I will rescue my sheep.
I will heal the sick. I will bind up the broken. I will seek out the lost.
It is as if God takes this day to break through the darkness. Speaking to each of us, the words we need to hear.
I will be your strength as you carry your cross.
I have already forgiven you my child. It is time to forgive yourself.
I will mend your heart. I will teach you how to trust again.
I am your rock. Cling to me when you are confused, lost or frightened. I am here.
I know the way forward. Follow me.
I love you. I have always loved you.
Speaking through each of us.
Empowering us to become who we receive.
Letting his light shine through us as we become Christ to those who encounter.
Those hungry for affection. Starving for a gentle touch.
Those thirsting for the truth. Who seek justice on their behalf.
Those who stand naked before the cruel glares of a judgmental world that demands perfection.
Those who are strangers in our midst. Who stand unnoticed at the thresholds of our lives.
Those who are imprisoned by their own self-doubt and sense of inadequacy.
Today we mark the end of another year my friends, but the basic dynamic has not changed.
The darkness may be real, but it will not reign.
Ushering in his kingdom of light and life, of peace, joy and love. Inviting us to be a part of that kingdom. And sending us forth to serve as his ambassadors to the end of the earth.
What a gift. What a mission. What a feast.
May God be Praised.