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Father Muench Says...

Our king is ‘different from the other kings’

Nov. 28, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to consider with you some things about our Catholic Church’s Liturgical Year. At this time of the calendar year, the liturgical year is rather busy.

First of all, I want to make certain that each one of you understand what is meant when we investigate the church’s liturgical year. This expression, “the church’s liturgical year,” refers to the schedule of the Mass celebration – basically the feast days that follow the life of Jesus and the celebrations of the various saints through the ages.

Each year, there is a commemoration and celebration of the events of our faith, especially the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Each part of the liturgical year is marked off as a spiritual season – Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. Any other season is simply called the Ordinary Time.

Now, in a few weeks, the old liturgical year will end and the new one will begin. Once again, the church will begin to celebrate that same series of liturgical events that the church has celebrated every year.

I have noticed that there are some who may believe that the new liturgical year will begin on Christmas day – the Feast of the Birth of Jesus. Actually, the Catholic Church’s liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. The church places four weeks of the Advent season before Christmas as the beginning of the new liturgical year.
During these weeks of Advent, the liturgical celebrations remember the centuries before the birth of Jesus – this is the time that the world was preparing for his birth.

The old liturgical year ends with a celebration of a special feast day in honor of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. This feast day is designated as the feast of Christ the King. The church closes a year of remembering and celebrating of all that Jesus did and taught by proclaiming him our king, our leader, our founder. Jesus declared himself the King of the Jews during his days on earth. But our king is rather uniquely different from the other kings of this world.

Our king lives among us, his people, in poverty. Our king leads and challenges us by his words and his actions; he declares himself as an example that we should follow and imitate.

Our challenge is to live like Jesus. Yet, our king’s throne is a cross, his crown is of thorns. He loves us so much that he bravely stands up for us even to his death. We have such a powerful king; we have such a loving king. He teaches us how to live well. All of this we celebrate on this feast of Christ the King.

Then on the first Sunday of Advent, we start the story all over again. For the four weeks of the Season of Advent, we celebrate all that happened as the world was preparing for the birth of the Savior. It is here that God sent into our world the powerful example and teaching of St. John the Baptist. John the Baptist continues after all of these years to be a powerful example for all of us today. John is still the perfect example of how to live as disciples of Jesus. John continues to challenge us all to reach out to others to make them open to receiving the Lord Jesus. John’s message was simply, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

St. John the Baptist is a perfect saint to begin our new liturgical church year.

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