Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Saturday, 19 November 2011, 4.15pm

[Readings: Ez 34:11-12, 15-17;  Ps 23;  1 Cor 15:20-16, 28;  Mt 25:31-46]


Today’s Solemnity is a particular celebration of Jesus, Our Lord.  And in celebrating him, we are recalling what God has done in Christ.

As we listen to the words of the Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading, we are reminded that, before Christ, God reached out to His people through mediators: through prophets, and through other men and women specially chosen with some task – ultimately to lead God’s people closer to him, and very often to bring them back to Him when they had strayed.

But in the Incarnation, God has done something altogether different.  God becomes flesh, in Christ, such that God now comes amongst his people in a unique way.  In Christ, the visible expression of the unseen God, God comes to be the shepherd of his sheep, to seek the lost, to bring back the strayed, to bind up the injured and to strengthen the weak.  The mystery of God becoming human is always, therefore, a source of joy and thanksgiving.

This mystery, though, is continuing in us.  Christ has associated us with himself.  Through baptism we become members of him – each one of us parts of his living body.  So, just as God came to seek out his people, to restore them, bind them up and strengthen them – so that mission continues in us.  That’s what the church is meant to be: the living body of Christ.  Through the church – through each of her members – God continues reaching out to humanity.  The Gospel puts this into the most practical terms.  We reach out – as God reaches out – and we will be judged to the extent that we reach out – to those in need of food and drink, those who are strangers and in need of welcome, those who lack necessities like clothing, those who are sick, or imprisoned.

It is good for us to be reminded – as the Gospel does – of the consequences of not doing those things.  The first reading also contained a warning.  Just after the Lord says through the prophet that he will seek the lost sheep, and bring back the stayed … he says that he will destroy the fat and the strong.  By this he means those who have become “fat and strong” at the expense of others.  For example, the shepherds who looked after their own interests more than the flock they should have been tending;  those who have hoarded for themselves what should have been shared with many.

So whilst Christ certainly is King of the universe, we can frustrate the coming of his kindom.  Christ’s reign as King will be advanced and reach further to the very extent that Christ is King of each individual person.

As we acclaim Christ as King today, it is a good opportunity for each of us to reflect on the extent to which we have welcomed Christ as the King of our lives.  Is Christ the King of our minds?  Do we think about the things he wants us to think about?  Do we give our assent and belief to the truths Christ has revealed to us through his church?  Is Christ the King of our wills?  Do we desire what Christ desires?  Do we obey the laws and precepts of God?  Is Christ the King of our hearts?  Do we love as Christ loved, with a pure love of God and others?  Do we desire to love God above all things?  Is Christ the King of our bodies?  Is what we do with our bodies helpful to the interior sanctification of our souls?

And then when we consider ourselves as a Christian community – even ourselves here, this community of Christ’s faithful that gathers for Mass here at Notre Dame – is Christ the centre and King of our community life?  Does He direct everything we do?

When we think about it, the celebration of Christ the King is anything but a celebration of an abstract theological idea.  Considering Christ’s Kingdom, and the reign of his kingdom among people forces us to consider our own conversion.  In truth and humility, all of us would have to name certain aspects of our lives where we have not yet assented to Christ being King.  In certain aspects of our lives, Christ is not the one in charge, we admit in humility.

In this celebration of the feast of Christ’s Kingship, we are moved to ask God to further the conversion of each of us to Christ and his ways.  Let us, today, entrust ourselves once more to the intercession of Our Lady, the Queen who sits at the right hand of Christ the King, that Christ her son may become – in each of us, more and more – the King of our minds, hearts, wills and bodies … so that we can all the better fulfil our task as Christians in the world of advancing the reign of God, who desires to make all things new.