Pastoral Message – November 20, 2022
Have you ever noticed how some words are just flat out picturesque? I’m not talking about onomatopoeia where words are associated with sounds – like pitter-patter (of little feet), meow, sizzle, boing, or zap. No. I’m thinking of words that evoke an image or a mindset that brings a picture to our mind’s eye. These words are starting points from which our imaginations run around a bit. So allow me to muse on a couple words taken from our readings today. In offering you these words, I give y’all free rein to let your imagination run around a bit too.
The first picturesque word, really a title, for your consideration is the very name of the Feast we celebrate today. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! That is certainly some title! Nevertheless, from it, can’t you picture a handsome, bearded, 33-year-old Jesus, robed in ermine trimmed vestments (ethically sourced, faux ermine), seated on a throne floating in mid-air, orb in his left-hand, scepter in his right, highlighted by the hot brightness of glory, but framed by the infinite depth of space pinpointed by distant stars. That image is likely from a painting I saw in a Church or museum someplace. (My imagination isn’t always original). Maybe stemming from the liturgically somber, cautionary, end-times theme, I seem to imagine that Jesus is gearing up for some final judging. His body language is authoritative, while there’s a twinkle of mercy in his eyes. At least that is the picture I have in my mind. Your imagination might change the picture a bit. The robes might be different. Jesus might be clean-shaven. Still, we can use our God-given intellect imagining a picture of truth. A truth that Jesus Christ is King of all that is. And we have a relationship with Him, who is our Lord – the Lord of all.
Another picturesque word shimmering forth from our readings counters every kind of well-deserved but fearfully-anticipated reproach from a just Judge. That word is “paradise”. Paradise, as a word, evokes such lovely visions – palm trees swaying, gentle surf breaking on a beach of sugary sand, with Bali Hai seeming to float on the sea’s horizon.
Maybe because of all the funerals I have celebrated, paradise also brings to my mind the hill-topped heavenly city, not green like Oz, but crystalline and gold and jeweled in a loving warmth. The city is gloriously lit, not from the sun above but from within, and from this city the songs of angels and saints can be heard, inviting all to come and join in the singing.
I can also picture how the horrible crucifixion scene told by our Gospel today was redeemed by the image of paradise. Hope is no longer a concept, but made real and incarnate as Jesus spoke to that repentant criminal on an adjoining cross. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” This last picture of paradise and a new picture of hope is the most personal, and meaningful, and glorious image our imaginations can fathom.
So today y’all, yes, we’ll use imagination. We should actively look and listen for picturesque words. They can signal the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So that the hope that is nourished by our imaginings will be realized in the truth that Jesus Christ is King.
God bless y’all!