Building our Life on Christ, the Stone Rejected, 34th Tuesday (I), November 26, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Tuesday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
November 26, 2013
Dan 2:31-45, Dn 3, Lk 21:5-11

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • This week we celebrate the mystery of Christ the King and seek to enter into the kingdom he came to establish. In today’s readings we see not only the prehistory of this kingdom but how Christ seeks to destroy incompatible kingdoms in order to establish the kingdom that will know no end.
  • In the first reading, we have the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, that none of his magicians, sorcerers, or others could interpret. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t reveal what he had seen and no one could interpret. God had revealed a similar dream to Daniel as well as its interpretation and so Daniel asked to be introduced into the king’s presence and properly interpreted the dream. The king saw a large and bright statue with a head of pure gold, the torso silver, the belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron and the feet partly iron and partly clay. At the end of the dream the king saw a stone that was thrown from a mountain without a hand that rendered the entire statue to dust. Daniel said that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was the gold head. He would be surpassed by the Persians (the silver torso), who themselves would be defeated by the Greeks (bronze). The Romans (iron) would come next, as strong as iron, but eventually their kingdom would have some weaknesses (feet half of clay). The stone that would come from above to pulverize the Romans would be the “stone rejected by the builders,” Christ himself, the Cornerstone. That’s what we celebrate during this week of Christ the King. Christ didn’t establish an earthly kingdom — his kingdom is not of this world — but the kingdom he did establish is the everlasting one that will know no end.
  • For us to have a firm foundation, we must build ourselves on Christ the cornerstone. In the Gospel today, Jesus describes that the Temple itself itself would be destroyed such that “there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” That’s because for the Jews the Temple had become an idol. Rather than a place of true encounter with God, they had perverted it to a den of thieves. They were not willing to grasp that that Temple was provisional until Christ the true Temple, the Messiah, came. We can similarly have our own religious idols that rather than bringing us to God take us away. There are Catholics who if their Church is closed, they stop practicing the faith, as if the Church building, rather than God himself who dwells within the Church, was really the most important thing of all. Others make the liturgy an idol, treating the most minute change of a rubric as if it’s as bad as cold-blooded murder and exalting the sign over the signified to such a degree that there are Catholics who refuse even to accept the new order of the Mass after 44 years. Jesus wants to smash all our idols so that he can help us build our entire lives on him.
  • Today, Pope Francis has released an apostolic exhortation entitled Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel. In it he stresses that the Christian faith is a joyful encounter with Christ. He said that there are many contextual challenges to this type of life of faith. Consumerism, which places our foundation in what we have and can obtain; secularist rationalism, which says that empirical science alone is a worthy underpinning; relativism, both theoretical and practical, which believes or lives, respectively, as if there’s no real foundation; narcotics, which places our foundation in ephemeral highs; and spiritual worldliness, which grounds one’s faith, hope and love in the things of this world and in seeking one’s own glory rather than God’s. For the Lord Jesus, Pope Francis wants to help free us from these false kingdoms so that we might construct our entire life on Christ the King.
  • The main point of the exhortation is that for us to be true disciples, authentic Christians, followers of the Lord, we need to spread the joy of our faith with others. To be a disciple is to be a missionary disciple, he says. If we’re not spreading the faith, to a large degree, we lack the faith, because once we’re really encountered Christ, how can we keep him to ourselves? For many Catholics, however, one of the foundations that need to be smashed is our cowardice in spreading the faith. We worry about other’s rejecting the Christian message and us the messenger far more than we worry about their rejecting Jesus our own rejecting the mission Jesus has given us to continue his mission by spreading the faith. There are many Catholics, the Pope says, who behave, even after they’ve come to Church, as if they’re just left a funeral, as if life is a long Lent with no Easter. Pope Francis for the Lord wants to smash those ideas, he wants to smash our ecclesial introversion that keeps us from taking Christ and his salvation, his good news, to others.
  • Two other things the Pope wants to smash are, first, the sense that spreading the faith is the task of an “exclusive and elite” band of professional apostles, rather than something that involves everyone; and, second, the idea that Catholics don’t have a duty to nourish their faith by reading things like this new apostolic exhortation. The Pope has written this letter to the lay faithful just as much as he has to bishops and priests. Are you planning to read it so that you can more firmly build your life on Christ? Or are you planning to keep your feet of faith part iron and part clay?

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
DN 2:31-45

Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:
“In your vision, O king, you saw a statue,
very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you.
The head of the statue was pure gold,
its chest and arms were silver,
its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron,
its feet partly iron and partly tile.
While you looked at the statue,
a stone which was hewn from a mountain
without a hand being put to it,
struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces.
The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.
But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth.“This was the dream;
the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings;
to you the God of heaven
has given dominion and strength, power and glory;
men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell,
he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all;
you are the head of gold.
Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours,
then a third kingdom, of bronze,
which shall rule over the whole earth.
There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron;
it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others,
just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else.
The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter’s tile and partly of iron,
mean that it shall be a divided kingdom,
but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile,
and the toes partly iron and partly tile,
the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
The iron mixed with clay tile
means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage,
but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
In the lifetime of those kings
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people;
rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms
and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.
That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain
without a hand being put to it,
which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.
The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future;
this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure.”

Responsorial Psalm
DN 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“You heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
“All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.”
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel
LK 21:5-11

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”