Occasionally priests and bishops provide us with a copy of their homily. We recently received one from Fr. Ray Ritari at St. Matthew Parish.
It tied in #RedCup discussion on social media — the removal of secular Christmas imagery from this year’s holiday cup design at Starbucks — to our call to use words and actions of mercy, mutual love and reconciliation. Here are some excerpts.
Fr. Ritari delivered the homily during a bilingual Mass celebrating the feast of Christ the King Nov. 22. He first recalled the life of Clarence Jordan, co-founder — alongside his wife — of Koinonia Farm, an intentional Christian community in Georgia in 1942. The farm’s name was from the Greek used in the Acts of the Apostles to describe the early church community and its atmosphere of reconciliation and partnership.
Despite neighboring racial prejudice, Blacks and Whites worked and lived together on the farm, Fr. Ritari said. Such efforts led to Jordan’s expulsion from the local Baptist Church.
Clarence Jordan believed the problem with Christianity was that people thought of Jesus as safely relegated to bible stories. Christ the King for many (as with many folks in our day and age) had become a person of the past whose radical message of inclusivity, peace and justice had lost its relevance.
Clarence Jordan felt that because of our silence regarding matters of justice had rid ourselves of the person of Jesus more so than those who crucified him over 2,000 years.
The homily continued
Maybe this year we can stop yelling at others to “keep Christ in Christmas” and instead focus on being Christ- like ourselves. Our challenge is to be intentional Catholics who want to work to change the structures in society that cause the poor to grow poorer, that cause refugees and the undocumented to be resisted and rejected, for the unborn to be murdered, for women and girls to be trafficked, for the LGBT community to be treated as less than.
Seriously, do you think Christ the King would rather have us prepare for his coming into the world during the Advent and Christmas seasons by putting his name on a plastic red cup that’s going to end up in the trash? Or would he rather we remember his coming as our King by no longer treating one another as trash, or as disposable as a red cup?
Fr. Ritari challenged Catholics to shift priorities to things that matter more by “being conscious of Christ the King, who empowers us to co-create with him a world based upon justice, mercy, and inclusivity.”
Remember, Christ the King:
- is already at Starbucks!!!
- is with the person behind you in the line as you prepare to go Christmas shopping.
- is with those whom others would have us hate and take revenge upon when we have been harmed.
- is with all people whose basic human rights are being disrespected.
- Finally, Christ the King is sitting beside you as you sip that hot cup of coffee when you are at your wits end with regard to your job, family or personal life. Christ the King is everywhere!!!! Yet, are we with him?
A Vatican spokesperson said that the Holy Year of Mercy is very. Its ”message of mercy, the love of God which leads to mutual love and reconciliation: this is precisely the answer we must give in times of temptation to mistrust.”
Fr. Ritari concluded his bilingual homily saying, “With our words and actions of mercy, mutual love, inclusivity, and reconciliation for all people, we will keep Christ the King in Christianity as Clarence Jordan wanted, rather than forcing the world to ‘keep Christ in Christmas.’ Or on red cup!”
Speaking of red cups, everyone today is receiving a red cup with a recent tweet from Pope Francis. It says, “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
Keep this cup some place prominent in your home during the Holy Year that begins December 8 to remind you to be an instrument of mercy as God is merciful with all people.