This Sunday, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Bishop Calvo celebrated Mass. In the procession were deacons Bob Dangel, and Joe Bell, along with Father Jacob Carazo. As Deacon Joe Bell readings ended the Gospel reading, Bishop Calvo stood to begin his homily, “Thanksgiving Day is Thursday.” The bishop then began to elaborate on this theme. The Greek word for “Thanksgiving” is “Eucharist.” Also, the Hebrew word for “Thanksgiving” is “Judah.” The root word in Hebrew means, “Hand.”
The image that comes to mind is from Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.
You got yourself two good hands And when your brother is troubled you’ve gotta reach out your hand for him ’cause that’s what it’s there for and when your heart is troubled you’ve gotta reach out your other hand, reach it out to the Man up there ’cause that’s what He’s there for.
Next week begins Advent and the approach to Christ’s Mass, Christmas Day. Jesus was born in the land of Judah, thanksgiving, in the city of David, which means our beloved king on Christmas Day. This city of David is Bethlehem, which means Beth or House, or Lechem, which is bread, the house of bread. The word, which we usually translate as “Inn,” in the original Greek, is κατάλυμα. This is the same word translated in Luke 22:12 as “The upper room.”
When St. Luke wants to describe in “Inn,” he uses the word, “πανδοχεῖον.” This was important to the bishop’s homily because the bishop asked the congregation whether there is room for Jesus in our upper room, which is the Eucharist.
The Hebrew word for Thanksgiving is Judah. The Last Supper, where the original was held, in the upper room, the κατάλυμα, was in celebration of Passover. This feast is strongly alluded to in Deuteronomy 5:1-7 where it states:
Moses called all Israel, and told them: Hear, Israel, the customs and traditions that I speak in your ears, this day, that ye may learn them, and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Mighty Judge cut a Social Contract with us in Horeb/Mt. Sword. The Personal Name did not cut this Social Contract with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here, alive, this day… I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, the house of menial labor.
Thanksgiving Day is our liberation from the pomp and glory of Europe
When God speaks, he speaks to Israel, the upright of God. When God speaks, he speaks to the community. The first thing God tells us is that it is not to our fathers, that generation who escaped from Egypt in about the 13th century B.C. He speaks to each of us standing here, alive, this day, participating in the Eucharist as one community.
Bishop Calvo emphatically pointed out that Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, because of growing nationalism. Joseph Stalin came to power on 3 April 1922. Benito Mussolini came to power on 31 October 1922. The Nazis came to power a decade later. Pope Pius created this feast to emphasize that we only have one king, that we are all one nation, from natio- and nativity, one people born together. That king is God.
God, as king, calls us to create one community, under him, respecting our brothers as made in his image. When we fail to do this, what we create is gangs, fascists, communists, and Nazis. The result is our end. When we follow this command, the Shekinah, the presence of God is with us and we are a light to the world. What is our choice?
Our Bishop pointed out that in 1969, Pope Paul VI gave the feast of Christ the King a new date through motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis. It is the last Sunday in the liturgical year. This was to show how important it is that understand we only have one king, and it is not Caesar, the President, the corporate CEO, or the union chief.
Bishop Calvo pointed out how this relates our Gospel reading, Matthew 25:31-Matthew 26:1. The feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday of the liturgical year and our Gospel reading is the last reading before the Passion. Matthew 25:32 tells us this address is not to individuals, but to nations. God tells us, as a nation, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” This is personal. As we treat the least of our neighbors, within our nation, and outside of it, we treat God; we participate in the Passion.
God tells us just how personal this is. Genesis 4:9-10 states in the original Hebrew, “The Personal Name asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” God replied, ‘What have you done? My blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground!” We are our brother’s keeper. It is not Abel’s blood that calls from the ground, but God’s. Genesis 1:26 states, “God said: Let us make human beings in our image/shalom, after our likeness/plural of blood in Hebrew.” The next verse tells us that God in fact did make man in his image/shalom.
As we treat our neighbor, we treat the image of God inside of him, and therefore God himself. Do we not get upset when we see the representation of our nation, our flag desecrated? Do we not get upset when we hear that our representative in Washington D.C., our President has his name or his likeness desecrated? How much more is the image of God his representation, in our neighbor, whether he is Muslim, Hispanic, African-American, or Native America? In our Gospel reading, this applies as well to the homeless man on the street, the person in prison, or the hungry.
Bishop Calvo also pointed out a little known fact about our “Corporal works of Mercy” as Matthew 25:31-46 lists them. Jesus describes justice in these passages. The Hebrew word for Justice is Tzaddic. This Hebrew word for Charity is Tzaddic. They are the same word. The idea comes from that passage in Deuteronomy 5.
Passover is the feast of Jewish National Identity and the Eucharist is our feast of National Identity. We are people rescued from other there, wherever over there is, and brought over here, the Eucharistic table. Our Thanksgiving Day, our commemoration as Americans is our rescue from the Irish potato famine, the French Revolution, and the other revolutions of early to mid-nineteenth century Europe.
Our National Identity is as a rescued people. As we complete the Corporal Works of Mercy, we work to create that community. This is justice As we practice the Corporal Works of Mercy on the world stage, we work to create a world community. The chapter before Deuteronomy chapter 5, chapter 4 tells us:
I teach you the customs and judicial precedents as the Personal Name, my Mighty Judge, has commanded me, that you may guard them in the land you are entering to possess. Guard them carefully. This is your wisdom and building up in the sight of the peoples, who will hear of all these customs and say, “This great nation is truly wise and understanding.”What great nation is there that has mighty ones so close to it as the Personal Name, our Mighty Judge, is to us whenever we call upon him? What great nation has customs and judicial precedents that are as charitable as this Torah, which I set before you this day?
Bishop Calvo strongly pointed out the memory of us all. We all grew up learning about the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and the feast they had with the Wampanoag, the natives living at Plymouth Rock.We remember as part of our heritage that it was not the Pilgrims who were the heroes, but the Wampanoag.What we learn as part of our heritage is that we can learn from other cultures, including peoples we think know less than ourselves, or we perceive to be culturally inferior to ourselves. In this feast the Wampanoag, who believe in one creator and that all are their relatives, shared with the Pilgrims.
In our bulletin for this Sunday were the words of Abraham Lincoln, who first asked us to commemorate Thanksgiving as a nation. Through Thanksgiving Day, we commemorate our freedom from slavery, which ended with the Civil War, and the sharing of the Wampanoag, of their skills, and their food. We remember that so long as any person on our planet suffers, God suffers, and we suffer with him. So long as any human being is in bondage, the image of God is in bondage, and we are in bondage with him.
- If we do not take care of our neighbor, this could be us.
Our Gospel reading asks us, do we want other nations to see our laws and us as a guiding light to the nations, or do we want to incur the anger of God for treating his image with less than respect. Russia, Germany, and Italy show us the folly of making the wrong choice. We need look no further than the pictures of ’45 Dresden and Berlin to see the results of the wrong choice. As Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us, choose life! Le Chaim!