Solemnity of Christ the King (B)
Saturday 24 November 2012 – 4.15pm
(Readings: Dan 7:13-14; Ps 93; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37)
When we speak about certain theological matters, a phrase we sometimes use is “already – but not yet.” This applies to various matters. If we consider our belief that salvation is through faith and baptism, then most of us here can rightly say, “I am saved!” And yet that drama of salvation still has to play out in our own lives. Despite the fact that we are saved, we still have to contend with temptation and sin, and we still have to work to respond to the grace of God working in our lives.
This “already – but not yet” idea is very evident when we consider the theme of today’s feast day. Christ is King of all creation! His kingdom already exists – it is not just some future thing. And yet we know that all created things have not yet acknowledged their King, through whom everything was made, and in whom everything exists. All of creation has not yet bowed down before the one and only King.
The Gospel and the preface of this Feast remind us of the characteristics of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Gospel Jesus states that his “kingdom is not from this world.” The preface describes it is “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface, Mass of the Solemnity of Christ the King).
If we look at the world at large, the daily news reminds us that Christ’s kingdom of peace is not yet fully established when we see nations and peoples at war with each other. The very land of the birth of the Prince of Peace is far from peaceful.
“When Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King, he was primarily responding to the excesses of Marxism and secular humanism, which sought to erase the name of Jesus Christ from human memory” (Fr Cliff Ermatinger, LC, www.sacerdos.org). It’s not difficult to see that similar forces – perhaps under new guises – are equally strong today. We see in the press skirmishes over whether the Christmas Crib should even be allowed to be displayed in public – never mind all the other offensive things that assault our senses!
We believe that the Church is the Bride of Christ, and the sacrament of salvation. And yet the Church herself is rent asunder by divisions. The Church is holy, and yet at the same time it is marked by the sin of her members. All of us disfigure the Body of Christ on earth by our sins, but in these decades the Church has been particularly beset by the scourge of the abuse of minors and vulnerable people, and also by the lingering impression that we haven’t done enough to repent of the evils of the past and to repair the damage caused.
The world and the Church – of course – are made up of people like you and me. So, at the end of the day, the health of the Church and the world is directly related to how converted we are. Is Christ the King of your life and mine? We might sing and say that he is, but is he truly the one before whom we bow down? Do we consider him as the motive for everything we do or say?
In the collect of today’s Mass we prayed: “Almighty ever-living God, … grant … that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.” In order for us to truly serve and praise God we need to be set free from every form of slavery. We can’t properly and fully serve God if someone or something else is sitting in the place that should be occupied by God alone.
Here in this cathedral we have that beautiful image of Christ in glory above the tabernacle. It reminds us that he is the king of all we do – all our attention is to be directed to him. Every problem could be solved if our hearts were fully converted to him.
So it’s good to ask ourselves: in what ways are we slaves to anyone or anything other than the Lord? Is any other “god” enthroned where Christ should be seated in our hearts? Are we slaves to our passions: anger, lust? Are we slaves to our own perceived importance, trying to control everything and everyone, always ensuring people know our opinions about everything? Are we slaves to our past – resisting the healing that we need for either what may have happened to us or what we did in the past? Are we slaves to the prevailing ideologies of humankind, which can blind us, more or less, to the Truth? Are we slaves to spirits that are not from the Lord: the spirits of jealousy, discouragement, unhealthy competition?
Mindful of all that, we truly do cry from our hearts to the Lord that he set us free from every slavery, so that we can be subject only to Him. We want Him to be the beginning and the end – the Alpha and Omega – of everything we do and say. We want to share in that Kingdom of his of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace.
As we receive Holy Communion tonight, let’s be particularly conscious that we are receiving the King of the Universe. Let’s be aware of what an awesome privilege that is, a privilege that moves us to profound devotion. As we receive him, let’s pray that He alone will be enthroned as King of our lives, and let’s seek to serve and praise him every moment of our existence.