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Archbishop Follo: Feast of Christ the King

With the invitation to worship Christ who reigns from Cross receiving all of us with the infinite mercy.

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November 25, 2018
Roman Rite
XXXIV Sunday of Ordinary Time- Year B- Feast of Christ the King
Dn 7:13-14; Ps 92; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37
Ambrosian Rite
Second Sunday of Advent
Is 19: 18-24; Ps 86; Eph 3:8-13; Mc 1:1-8
Praise the Lord, you all people
1 A King not of another world but of the true world
Jesus is not the King of a different world but he is a different King. His aim is to serve the truth of the charity that makes us free. His power doesn’t make us slaves in the human way. It elevates us to Him and makes us share His own life. “Christ’s royalty is the contrary of the exercise of power. It is service, gift of His own to the point of death,” to give us life.
In today’s gospel, when questioned by Pilate regarding his royalty, Jesus answers: “I am a king. For this, I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify the truth.” Christ’s royalty is totally subjected to the needs of truth. These words in John’s gospel indicate God’s truth, His love for mankind and His tenderness toward every man and woman.
In his brief debate with Pilate, Jesus states another very important thing: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” To understand Christ’s royalty and to participate to His kingdom (and to announce and celebrate this royalty) one must choose truth.
What is truth? It is Christ!
Christ is the only man in human history who has said: “I am the truth.” (Jn 14,6). To all of us hungry to know the truth about God, about mankind and about the world, Christ offers himself as the World of truth announced by God himself as the answer to all the questions of the human heart. It is a Word that not only created the world but also supports it. Christ is the King, a King that we must know not only with the mind, but also with the heart. Saint Augustine wrote, ”One doesn’t enter in truth except through charity.”
Christ is the royal witness of truth because he governs upon mankind and the world in an authentic way. He doesn’t tower above. He doesn’t reign over with a scepter and on a throne. His throne is the Cross, the true kingdom of the infinite love. His scepter is not a wand of command, but once more the Cross, that becomes a “pastoral” with which He guides his sheep. He corrects them not because He wishes to punish them, but because He puts them on His shoulders (holds them with and on His shoulders). This is His way to rule. I can explain it with the following example. Written on the wall in the hall of a maternity clinic in Munich there were these words: “The hand which rocks the cradle moves the entire world.” Every one of us is a “symbolic cradle”. Christ has taken upon himself the ‘maternal’ assignment of rocking it with His “regal” hands so that with the slow pace of time we can become adults in Him.
In order to learn from Him how to reign over and to serve the world let’s pray with Psalm  85 verses 11 and 12:” Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss. Truth will spring from hearth; justice will look down from heaven.” Then we’ll have a true world. It will be a new world where God’s love and His fidelity will manifest themselves, Truth will sprout in a new spring and justice will come down from heaven to begin its journey among humanity.
Christ’s royalty is the source of mercy and makes truth sprout, justice bloom, and peace shine. Saint Augustine writes” ‘Truth has sprung from the earth’: Christ who said ’I am the truth’ (Jn 14,6) was born from a virgin. ‘Justice has looked forth from heaven’: those who believe in the one who was born is not justified by him, but is justified by God.Truth has sprung from the earth’ because the ‘Word became flesh’ (Jn1,4). ‘Justice has looked forth from heaven ’because ‘every grace and every perfect gift come from above ’(Gv 1,17). “Truth has sprung from earth’: it has taken body from Mary (St. Augustine Sermons 185,2).
2 Witness of truth.
       In dying on the Cross, Jesus was not defeated by the world. He conquered it with His love. To the world, he has introduced a new Kingdom, the charitable Dominion of God in the hearts of all. The divine love through Christ has dwelled on earth in the hearts of the poor the children and the charitable human beings, in the pure hearts, in the canonized saints and in those saints that only God knows. All these people and we as well form a Kingdom of which some small parts are already visible. Everybody understands that these “saints” don’t want to conquer the world to use it or to build a world power. They want that the love of the true God be king in and over the world.
One could object that this God’s message is abstract, incomprehensible and that the royal Presence of Christ is little in concreteness. In today’s gospel, Jesus says: “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.» Everyone means all of us, not only those who have studied the catechism or have listened to sermons. On the Cross, with words of forgiveness Christ the King is understandable by all.
Everyone can listen to this voice of truth that states that only love can give meaning to life. We Christians do not have the monopoly of this truth but we must take in the world the testimony of the truth that becomes forgiveness.
In order to be witnesses of truth let’s recite often the Our Father. Let’s ask passionately that the “Kingdom come.” If God’s dominion will prevail not only in heaven but on earth as well, God’s heart will throb in this heartless world.
The veil that the consecrated virgins receive in the day of their consecration is the sign of the recognition of Christ’s royalty and of the dedication to the Heart of God. When the virgins receive it the Bishop says: “Dear daughters receive this veil, sign of your consecration. Never forget that you are at the service of Christ and of his body the Church.” This service is the testimony of a truth that proposes itself to the world as gift of itself. The pagan giant Atlantis unwillingly carries the world on his shoulders as punishment for his rebellion to Jupiter. On the opposite side, Jesus wants to take the Cross in obedience to the Father. With the Cross, he supports the world, loves it and shows the infinite and tender love of God for humanity.
Christ’s Cross is the fixed point among all the changes and the upheavals of the world. Christian life shows the stability of the Cross. This is the stability of God and of His faithful love. If we stay linked to God as the branches to the vine we are associated with his mystery of salvation like the Virgin Mary who remained beside the Cross united to the Son in His donation of love.
3 How to convert to this love
            The second Sunday of Advent of the Ambrosian Rite invites us to be sons and daughters of the Kingdom with our conversion to this true love. Our sin is that we think to be true without God and live chocking our hearts. The conversion to live the advent is to return to the love of the Father asking for mercy and letting us to be loved by the demanding love of God.
Let’s convert ourselves so that we will be among the ones to whom Jesus Christ will say:” Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”(Mt 25,34)
On the veil
The symbol of the veil has ancient origins. It is used in Christian art to highlight the dogmatic teachings. The veil is the symbol of heaven- let’s remember the tent of the temple woven, according to the apocryphal writers, by Mary. This tent tears when Jesus dies. ( Mt 27:51 Mc 15.38 Lc 23,45). This “tearing” of the veil signifies that the death of Christ opens for all the way toward the Saint of Saints and the Jerusalem of the sky.
The symbolism of the veil is deeply connected to the cult of Mary. The faithful enter into the Kingdom of God “through the veil, namely the flesh of Christ” ( Heb 10, 20). It was in Mary, His mother, that the Word became flesh.
Patristic Reading
John Chrysostom  (344/354 – 407)
Homily 84
Jn 18,37
«To this end was I horn, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My Voice.»
[1.] A Marvelous thing is longsuffering; it places the soul as in a quiet harbor, fleeing it from tossings1 and evil spirits. And this everywhere Christ hath taught us, but especially now, when He is judged, and dragged, and led about. For when He was brought to Annas, He answered with great gentleness, and, to the servant who smote Him, said what had power to bring down all his insolence; thence having gone to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, and having spent the whole night in these scenes, He all through exhibiteth His own mildness; and when they said that He was a malefactor, and were not able to prove it, He stood silent; but when He was questioned concerning the Kingdom, then He spake to Pilate, instructing him, and leading him in to2 higher matters. But why was it that Pilate made the enquiry not in their presence, but apart, having gone into the judgment hall? He suspected something great respecting Him, and wished, without being troubled by the Jews, to learn all accurately. Then when he said, “What hast thou done?” on this point Jesus made no answer; but concerning that of which Pilate most desired to hear, namely, His Kingdom, He answered, saying, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That is, “I am indeed a King, yet not such an one as thou suspectest, but far more glorious,” declaring3 by these words and those which follow, that no evil had been done by Him. For one who saith, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,” showeth, that no evil hath been done by Him. Then when He saith, “Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice,” He draweth him on by these means, and persuadeth him to become a listener to the words. “For if,” saith He, “any one is true, and desireth these things,4 he will certainly hear Me.” And, in fact, He so took him by these short words, that he said,
Jn 18,38. “What is truth?”
But for the present he applieth himself to what was pressing, for he knew that this question needed time, and desired to rescue Him from the violence of the Jews. Wherefore he went out, and what said he?
“I find no fault in him.”5
Consider how prudently he acted. He said not, “Since he hath sinned, and is deserving of death, forgive him on account of the Feast”;6 but having first acquitted Him of all guilt, he asks them over and above, if they were not minded to dismiss Him as innocent, yet as guilty to forgive Him on account of the time. Wherefore he added,
Jn 18,39-40. “Ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the Passover”; then in a persuasory way, “Will ye therefore that I release the king of the Jews? Then cried they all, Not this man, but Barabbas.”7
O accursed decision! They demand those like mannered with themselves, and let the guilty go; but bid him punish the innocent. For this was their custom from old time. But do thou all through observe the lovingkindness of the Lord in these circumstances. Pilate scourged Him8 perhaps desiring to exhaust and to soothe the fury of the Jews. For when he had not been able to deliver Him by his former measures, being anxious to stay the evil at this point, he scourged Him, and permitted to be done what was done, the robe and crown to be put on Him, so as to relax their anger. Wherefore also he led Him forth to them crowned (Jn 18,5), that, seeing the insult which had been done to Him, they might recover a little from their passion, and vomit their venom. “And how would the soldiers have done this, had it not been the command of their ruler?” To gratify the Jews. Since it was not by his command that they at first went in9 by night, but to please the Jews; they dared anything for money. But He, when so many and such things were done, yet stood silent, as He had done during the enquiry, and answered nothing. And do thou not merely hear these things, but keep them continually in thy mind, and when thou beholdest the King of the world and of all Angels, mocked of the soldiers, by words and by actions, and bearing all silently, do thou imitate Him by deeds thyself. For when Pilate had called Him the King of the Jews, and they now put about Him the apparel of mockery, then Pilate having led Him out, said,
Jn 19,4-5. “I find no fault against him. He therefore went forth, wearing the crown.” 10
But not even so was their rage quenched, but they cried out,
Jn 19,6. “Crucify him, crucify him.” 11
Then Pilate, seeing that all was done in vain, said,
“Take ye him, and crucify him.”
Whence it is clear that he had permitted what had been done before, because of their madness.
“For I,” he saith, “find no fault in him.”
[2.] See in how many ways the judge makes His defense, continually acquitting Him of the charges; but none of these things shamed the dogs from their purpose. For the, “Take ye him and crucify him,” is the expression of one clearing himself of the guilt, and thrusting them forward to an action not permitted to them. They therefore had brought Him, in order that the thing might be done by the decision of the governor; but the contrary fell out, that He was rather acquitted than condemned by the governor’s decision. Then, because they were ashamed,
Jn 19,7. “We have,” they said, “a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
“How then when the judge said, ‘Take ye him, and judge him according to your law,’ did ye reply, ‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,’ while here ye fly to the law? And consider the charge, ‘He made himself the Son of God.’ Tell me, is this a ground of accusation, that He who performed the deeds of the Son of God should call Himself the Son of God?” What then doth Christ? While they held this dialogue one with the other, He held His peace, fulfilling that saying of the Prophet, that “He openeth not his mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away.” (Is 53,8 LXX).
Then Pilate is alarmed 12 when he hears from them, that He made Himself the Son of God, and dreads lest the assertion may possibly be true, and he should seem to transgress; but these men who had learnt this, both by His deeds and words, did not shudder, but are putting Him to death for the very reasons for which they ought to have worshiped Him. On this account he no more asks Him, “What hast thou done?” but, shaken by fear, he begins the enquiry again, saying, “Art thou the Christ?” But He answered not. For he who had heard, “To this end was I born, and for this came I,” and, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” he, when he ought to have opposed His enemies and delivered Him, did not so, but seconded the fury of the Jews. Then they being in every way silenced, make their cry issue in a political charge, saying, “He that maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar.” (Jn 19,12). Pilate ought therefore to have accurately enquired, whether He had aimed at sovereignty, and set His hand to expel Caesar from the kingdom. But he makes not an exact enquiry, and therefore Christ answered him nothing, because He knew that he asked all the questions idly. 13 Besides, since His works bare witness to Him, He would not prevail by word, nor compose any defense, showing that He came voluntarily to this condition. When He was silent, Pilate saith,
Jn 19,10. “Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?” 14
Seest thou how he condemned himself beforehand; for, “if the whole rests with thee, why dost not thou let Him go, when thou hast found no fault in Him?” When then Pilate had uttered the sentence against himself, then He saith,
Jn 19,11. “He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
Showing that he also was guilty of sin. Then,to pull down his pride and arrogance, He saith,
“Thou wouldst have no power except it were given thee.” 15
Showing that this did not come to pass merely in the common order of events, 16 but that it was accomplished mystically. Then lest, when thou hearest, “Except it were given thee,” thou shouldest deem that Pilate was exempt from all blame, on this account therefore He said, “Therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.” “And yet if it was given, neither he nor they were liable to any charge.” “Thou objectest idly; for the ‘given’ in this place means what is ‘allowed’; as though He had said, ‘He hath permitted these things to be, yet not for that are ye clear of the wickedness.’” He awed Pilate by the words, andproffered a clear defense. On which account that person sought to release Him; but they again cried out, saying, 17
Jn 19,12. “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend.”
For when they profited nothing by bringing charges drawn from their own law, they wickedly betook themselves to external laws, saying,
“Every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”
And where hath this Man appeared as a tyrant? Whence can ye prove it? By the purple robe? By the diadem? By the dress? 18 By the soldiers? Did not He ever walk unattended, save by His twelve disciples, following in every point a humble mode of living, both as to food, and clothing, and habitation? But O what shamelessness and ill-time cowardice! For Pilate, deeming that he should now incur some danger were he to overlook these words, comes forth as though to enquire into the matter, 19 (for the “sitting down” showed this,) but without making 20 any enquiry, he gave Him up to them, thinking to shame them. For to prove that he did it for this purpose, hear what he saith.
Jn 19,14-15. “Behold your king!” But when they said, “Crucify him,” he added again, “Shall I crucify your king?” But they cried out, “We have no king but Caesar.” 21
Of their own will they subjected themselves to punishment; therefore also God gave them up, because they were the first to cast themselves out from His providence and superintendence; and since with one voice they rejected His sovereignty, He allowed them to fall by their own suffrages. Still what had been said should have been sufficient to calm their passion, but they feared, lest, being let go, He should again draw the multitudes, and they did all they could to prevent this. For a dreadful thing is love of rule, dreadful and able to destroy the soul; it was on account of this that they had never heard Him. And yet Pilate, in consequence of a few words, desired to let Him go, but they pressed on, saying, “Crucify him.” And why did they strive to kill Him in this manner? It was a shameful death. Fearing therefore lest there should afterwards be any remembrance of Him, they desired to bring Him to the accursed punishment, not knowing that truth is exalted by hindrances. To prove that they had this suspicion, listen to what they say; 22 “We have heard that that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again” (Mt 27,63); on this account they made all this stir, turning things upside down, 23 that they might ruin matters in after time. 24 And the ill-ordered people, corrupted by their rulers,cried out continually, “Crucify him!”
[3.] But let us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated on, are sufficient to take down all anger; and if we be mocked at, if we suffer injustice, let us still say, “The servant is not greater than his Lord” (c. xiii. 16); and let us bring forward the words of the Jews, which they uttered in their madness, saying, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil” (c. viii. 48); and, “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub.” (Lc 11,15). For on this account He bare all these things, in order that we might walk in His footsteps, and endurethose mockings which disturb more than anyother kind of reproach. Yet nevertheless He not only bare these things, but even used every means to save and deliver from the appointed punishment those who did them. For He sent the Apostles also for their salvation, at leastthou hearest them saying, that, “We 25 know that through ignorance ye did it” (Ac 3,17); and by these means drawing them to repentance. This let us also imitate; for nothing so much maketh God propitious as the lovingenemies, and doing good to those who despitefully use us. When a man insults thee, look not to him, but to the devil who moves him, and against him empty all thy wrath, but pity the man who is moved by him. For if lying is from the devil, to be angry without a cause is much more so. When thou seest one turning another into ridicule, consider that it is the devil who moves him, for mockings belong not to Christians. For he who hath been bidden to mourn, and hath heard, “Woe, ye that laugh” (Lc 6,25), and who after this insults, and jests, and is excited, demands not reproach from us, but sorrow, since Christ also was troubled when He thought on Judas. All these things therefore let us practice in our actions, for if we act not rightly in these, we have come to no purpose and in vain into the world. Or rather we have come to our harm, for faith is not sufficient to bring men to the Kingdom, nay, it even hath power 26 in this way most to condemn those who exhibit an ill life; for He “which knew his Lord’s will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Lc 12,47); and again, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.” (c. 15,22). What excuse then shall we have, who have been set within the palace, and deemed worthy to stoop 27 down and enter into the sanctuary, and have been made partakers of the releasing Mysteries, 28 and who yet are worse than the Greeks, whohave shared in none of these things? For if they for the sake of vainglory have shown so much true wisdom, much more ought we to go after all virtue, because it is pleasing to God. But at present we do not even despise wealth; while they have often been careless of their life, and in wars have given up their children to their madness about devils, 29 and have despised nature for the sake of their devils, but we do not even despise money for the sake of Christ, nor anger on account of God’s will, but are inflamed, and in no better state than the fevered. And just as they, when possessed by their malady, are all burning, so we, suffocated as by some fire, can stop at no point of desire, increasing both anger and avarice. On this account I am ashamed and astonished, when I behold among the Greeks men despising riches, but all mad among ourselves. For even if we could find some despising riches, we should find that they have been made 30 captive by other vices, by passion or envy; and a hard thing it is to discover true wisdom without a blemish. 31 But the reason is, that we are not earnest to get our remedies from the Scriptures, nor do we apply ourselves to those Scriptures with compunction, and sorrow, and groaning, but carelessly, if at any time we chance to be at leisure. Therefore when a great rush of worldly matters comes, it overwhelms all; and if there hath been any profit, destroys it. For if a man have a wound, and after putting on a plaster, do not tie it tight, but allow it to fall off, and expose his sore to wet, and dust, and heat, and ten thousand other things able to irritate it, he will get no good; yet not by reason of the inefficacy of the remedies, but by reason of his own carelessness. And this also is wont to happen to us, when we attend but little to the divine oracles, but give ourselves up wholly and incessantly to things of this life; for thus all the seed is choked, and all is made unfruitful. That this may not be the case, let us look carefully a little, let us look up to heaven, let us bend down to the tombs and coffins of the departed. For the same end awaiteth us, and the same necessity of departure will often come upon us before the evening. Prepare we then for this expedition; 32 there is need of many supplies for the journey, 33 for great is the heat there, and great the drought, and great the solitude. Henceforth there is no reposing at an inn, there is no buying anything, when one hath not taken all from hence. Hear at least what the virgins say, “Go ye to them that sell” (Mt 25,9); but they who went found not. Hear what Abraham saith, “A gulf between us and you.” (Lc 16,26). Hear what Ezekiel saith concerning that day, that Noah, and Job, and Daniel shall in nowise deliver their sons. (Ez 14,14). But may it never come to pass that we hear these words, but that having taken hence sufficient provision for our way to eternal life, we may behold with boldness our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
1 or, “waves,” or, “winds.”
2 Sav. conj). “up.”
3 al). “hinting.”
4 i.e. the things of truth.
5 “And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” N. T.
6 lit). “grant him to the feast.”
7 “Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” N. T.
8 Chap. 19,1–3). “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.”
9 i.e. to the garden).
10 Ver. 4, 5). “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, and Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man.” N. T.
11 Ver. 6). “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him.” N. T.
12 Ver. 8, 9). “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment-hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.” N. T.
13 eijkh`/ pavnta ejrwtw`nta. Savile reads ejrwtw`n, with the conjecture ejrw`n. The reading rendered above best suits the sense, and is supported by mss.
14 Ver. 10). “Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” N. T.
15 “no power against Me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that,” &c. N. T.
16 th;n tw`n pollw`n ajkolouqivan, al). tw`n a]llwn.
17 Ver. 12). “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him; but the Jews cried out, saying.” N. T).
18 al). “the chariot.”
19 Ver 13). “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.” N. T.
20 al). “taking pains for.”
21 Ver. 14, 15). “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour; and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” N. T.
22 al). “one saith.”
23 or, “using every means.”
24 w(ste ta; meta; tau`ta lumhvnasqai.
25 “I,” N. T.
26 or, “the case admits,” e]cei).
27 or, “to peep,” diakuvyai.
28 Ben). “mysteries releasing from sins.”
29 i. e. their heathen worship.
30 al). “they are made.”
31 kaqaravn.
32 e]xodon.
33 ejfodivwn)

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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