We know that on January first begins a New Year, but today as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we celebrate the closing of the Church’s year, and on December 1 we celebrate the Church’s New Year. On December First, the Sunday readings will be taken from the Cycle A and the weekday readings are taken from Cycle 2. Before the changes of Vatican II, you may have not been aware of how the church choses the readings for a particular Sunday or weekday. The readings were the same and never changed year after year. Vatican II opened the Bible for us. On Sundays there is a three-year cycle that we call A, B, and C. The Old Testament and the Gospel usually carry the same theme and the Letters from the New Testament may or may not fit the theme of the Old and New Testament for a particular Sunday. For weekdays the readings fall into two cycles and specific readings with a theme are chosen from both Old and New Testament along with a gospel passage taken from the four gospels. This year we find ourselves in Cycle A featuring the Gospel according to Saint Matthew and weekdays we find ourselves in Year II. We now use more of the Bible readings on a daily basis.
You may wonder why the Church closes it‘’s year always with the Feast of Christ the King? The most obvious reason is that, in Advent and the Christmas season, we prepare for the coming of Christ and look forward to His coming on Christmas Day. And so, we go through His public ministry that leads up to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, where He redeems us. Then on the Feast of the Ascension, He returns to the Father. This cycle reminds us that we begin and end with Jesus and without Jesus in our life we are nothing. Like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, we are looking for a heart. In this case that Heart is Jesus, our Lord and King.
I love today’s Gospel where Jesus interreacts with the Good Thief as he came to be known. (We have given him the name of Dismas.) The good thief says to Jesus: “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” If you look on the “humorous side” many would say that he was a thief to the end – he stole heaven at the last minute. The Good Thief reminds us that at any stage of our life, if we come home after being away and are sincere about it, Jesus will say to us: “This day you will be with Me in Paradise.” With open arms Jesus embraces us. What a wonderful God we have! Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving Day!