Homily for November 22, Tuesday of the XXXIV week in O.T., yr I; Memorial of St. Cecilia
The hymns dedicated to Christ the King are practically still ringing in our ears from Sunday Mass, and the theme of that solemnity continues to resonate in the liturgy, as we can see from today’s readings.
Christ the King, being the last Sunday of the liturgical year, is like the last paragraph of the last chapter of a book – and it reminds us that the story of salvation is an unfinished work. It does not end with “and they all lived happily ever after”, but instead with, “and He will come back some day to judge the living and the dead, and then live happily ever after”. That message is implied in both readings today.
The reading from the book of Daniel recounts the prophet’s explanation of the king’s dream, which includes a prediction of “a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” that will “put an end” to all other kingdoms and “stand forever”. This is the kingdom of Christ, which has already begun in a real but primarily spiritual way. It is a kingdom of mercy, love and truth, as well as a kingdom of justice, as the Sunday readings reminded us, and citizenship in it requires a life of service to God and neighbor.
That kingdom will someday become visible, but we do not know when. In today’s Gospel reading, the Lord warns us that a great many things will happen before He comes again. He does not tell us the actual date, perhaps to keep us from being like students who wait until the last minute to prepare for a final exam. Instead, He wants us to be like St. Cecilia, whose memorial we celebrate today. Practically the only thing we know about her for sure is that her faith was more a high priority for her, more important to her than her life, and she died a martyr.
May God help us keep our priorities straight, with the truths of our faith guiding our every action. Thus, when the Lord returns in triumph, we will be ready to go out to meet Him joyfully, in the company of St. Cecilia and all the saints.