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“Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’ So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’” (John 18:33b-37).

The feast of Christ the King marks the end of the liturgical year and celebrates Jesus as Lord over all of creation. This feast also proclaims Jesus’ mission to bring God’s reign of justice and peace to the entire world. The kingdom that Jesus will rule is very different from the one that Pilate had in mind in when he asked the questions recorded in this reading. Pilate was unable to see beyond his own ideas and was unable to envision a kingdom not founded on power and suppression of enemies.

As this liturgical year draws to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on how we have grown and changed as a result of studying the nature of discipleship throughout the Gospel according to Mark.

As Christians, we are always on a journey towards a deeper union with God and in service to our brothers and sisters. With Jesus as our King, who welcomes everyone into the fold regardless of economic or social status, we are to bring about a new vision of God’s kingdom of peace and justice. We are to reach out to the disfranchised, the marginalized, and the unacknowledged.

This feast of Christ the King is a feast of hope for all people. Jesus proclaimed a message of love for everyone. We, as his disciples, are called to do no less.

What are your expectations of a leader? How do those expectations affect your own leadership?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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MercyThe Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis begins December 8. What is it that makes mercy such an important part of our relationship with God and of our treatment of other people? Why is Pope Francis dedicating an entire year for us to be so mindful of mercy?
 
Simply this: if you hope to receive mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. Do not ask for yourself what you deny
to others.
 
These thoughts come from St. Peter Chrysologus, a fifth-century Italian bishop. Peter said that when you open your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
 
This idea of treating others with mercy is something well known to us as Catholics. We don’t show mercy to win heaven but because Jesus asks us to—in the prayer he taught us: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
 
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is intended to help us remember these words of Jesus and try to love others in the same way God loves us.
 
We tend to love others because they’re attractive or fun or because we want them to love us. That’s not why God loves us. He loves us not because we’re good, but because he is.
 
Our prayer today:
 

God of love, you pour out your mercy to overflowing.
Help us to show mercy to others with the same generosity.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’” (Mark 13:28-32).

This reading begins, “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25). Darkness, earthquakes, the end of the world … This certainly is not an easy passage to hear.

Mark’s Gospel was written during turbulent times, which ended with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Faced with these signs of disaster, Mark’s community was sure that the end was near. They anticipated that the second coming of Christ would happen any day.

Mark affirmed that there would be a second coming and also stressed that we can’t know when it will occur. Mark invited his downcast community into a deeper understanding of the end of time. Instead of giving up in the face of the apocalypse and expecting Jesus to rescue us, true disciples will be working and doing good right through it.

Talk of “doom and gloom” reminds us of the harsh reality that being a disciple brings persecution and suffering. Discipleship is about another way of life, not to be measured by the values of this world. Only when all we know is gone will we really understand what our faithful discipleship has brought.

How are you living the values of the world yet to come? How can you better live these values?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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The Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis begins one month from today—December 8. Even though it is weeks away, we should get ready now to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.
 
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is a new step on the Church’s journey to bring the Gospel of mercy to each person, including us. As the pope reminds us, the whole Church is “in such need of mercy, for we are sinners (homily, March 13, 2015).What is the Jubilee Year of Mercy? A formal way that our Catholic community might share a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness toward us, Pope Francis says, is “almost tangible.” During this year, we hope to rediscover the joy of God’s mercy, which is greater than any sin.
 
The jubilee also is intended to remind us that we, in turn, are instructed by Jesus to give comfort to others throughout the human family. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” he said (Luke 6:36).
 
Perhaps the most encouraging words from Pope Francis? No one can judge us except God, and “his is a judgment of mercy.” The pope adds, “Do not forget that God forgives all and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness.”
 
Our prayer today:
 

God of mercy, you are eager to forgive and quick to forget.
Help us accept the gift of your mercy without question,
and grant forgiveness to ourselves and to others.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood’” (Mark 12:41-44).

The selfless widow exemplifies humility, discretion, and generosity, which are all part of authentic discipleship. Her gift represented everything she had. It was not given from her surplus but rather from her need.

Discipleship means recognizing two things about gifts. First, God has bestowed gifts upon every one of us. Second, whatever gifts or “riches” God has entrusted to us are to be cheerfully and willingly shared for the benefit of others—particularly those in greatest need.

In our day-to-day lives, we need to recognize that we all have gifts and talents to offer our peers in need. In addition to recognizing these gifts, we could (and should) share them, for example, by spending time with someone who is having problems in a relationship or volunteering in a community support organization.

What is your contribution to others? How do you share yourself and your gifts, not from your abundance but out of what you truly need?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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