Today is the Feast of Christ, the King of the Universe. This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, and next Sunday we begin the new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent. The Feast of Christ the King is fitting close to the liturgical year as we look forward to the second coming of Christ at the end of time. In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus reminded us that no one knows when the end will come, but He warns us to be prepared. Today we are called to acknowledge Jesus as our King and recognize that He should rule our lives in every way. Sometimes this is very difficult for us to live out because we want to be in charge of our own lives. We do not want someone else telling us what to do because we can figure things out for ourselves. The world has great need to realize that Jesus is our King and the more we look to Him to rule over us the better off the world will be. When the leaders of the world realize that Jesus is the King of the Universe, and they are called to rule in His Name, the better they will be able to lead us to the TRUTH, and that is Jesus Himself.
So, as we celebrate this feast, let us pray that we can let Jesus rule over us because no one cares more about us, and no one loves us more than He does. Pray that we will be given the grace to listen to Jesus in every aspect of our lives. The modern world tries very hard to keep Jesus in the churches and out of our schools, marketplaces, and seats of government. The world seems to be saying if you want Jesus then go to church, but leave Him there and do not try to share or announce the gospel to your brothers and sisters in the world. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus told us when He told His apostles and us to go into the whole world and announce the Gospel. We must not be afraid to let Jesus be our King and truly RULE our lives.
Continuing our thoughts on death during this month of the Poor Souls, we might consider the many things family members may do at a funeral Mass. A family member may proclaim the first and second reading as long as they are able to do so effectively and with the reverence that should always be accorded the Word of God. The death of a loved one is a challenging time for many people, so we should make sure that anyone who is asked to be a lector at a funeral is able to maintain their composure while performing the ministry of lector. The family members may also place the pall over the casket at the beginning of the funeral. They may bring forward the gifts of bread and wine. Again, this should be done by members of the family who are also able to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. I ask that you please keep these guidelines in mind when you plan your own funeral or the funeral of a loved one. On our parish web site (shofjesus.com) you will find funeral planning information which will help in planning a funeral with a selection of readings and hymns; just go to the Mass and Sacraments heading and click on Funeral Arrangements in the drop-down menu.
Concerning the eulogy that some often request to be given at the funeral Mass; the Church clearly teaches us that a eulogy does not belong within the funeral Mass, but it is better given at the wake, at the grave, or at the gathering following a funeral. A homily is to be given by a bishop, priest, or deacon at the usual time. The homily is a time for the priest or deacon to reflect on the scriptures that have been chosen for the funeral Mass. This would include reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by which He won for us the gift of eternal life. The scriptures offer us a great deal of comfort and strength in our time of sadness by reminding us of the hope that God holds out to us of everlasting life with Him.
After Communion, our thoughts should always be centered in Christ and His gift of Himself to us in this most holy Sacrament. This is not the time to talk about the life of any human being. The funeral Mass, as any Mass, is a celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is about Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. The funeral Mass is a time for us to present the dead to Christ and commend them to almighty God for a merciful judgment. It is a time for us to pray that the sins of our loved ones may be forgiven so that they can share totally in God’s life and love.
Next week, we begin the Holy Season of Advent. During this time, we look forward and prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus as God becomes one of us. It is a time of prayer and sacrifice as we make room in our lives and in our hearts for Jesus our Lord.