24th/25th Nov

posted 27 Nov 2018, 05:41 by Parish Office

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year B (24 & 25/11/18)


“His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).  Christ is our King, and He rules like no other.  The Roman Empire is no more, the British Empire is no more, but Christ’s reign lasts for ever.  And what sort of a reign is it?  What sort of a King is Christ?  In this country, the Queen is nothing more than a figurehead.  She takes part in royal ceremonies, and addresses the nation at Christmas, but throughout the year, has no real power; the real ruling of the country belongs to Parliament.  She has to agree with what Parliament decides, and if she decided to go against it, she might have to abdicate.  That is not how Christ rules.  Christ is not just about nice ceremonies, a few nice words at Christmas, and then to be ignored throughout the year.  Christ’s reign is about the whole of life.


Christ’s reign is also a permanent reign.  All of today’s three readings mention this at the end of each of them.  The first reading:  “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed”.  The second reading:  “ ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”.  The Gospel speaks of the timelessness of the truth Christ brings:  “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice”.  The truth by which Christ reigns does not change from one thing to another from age to age.  We might deepen our understanding of it, but it’s still the same truth.  Technology does not make it null and void.  At the time of the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted and put to death, but in the end, Christianity was legalised, and in the end, the Roman Empire fell apart.  So many other empire and kingdoms (and republics too) have risen and fallen, but Christ remains.  The Third Reich was supposed to last a thousand years, but didn’t even manage fifty.  Communism managed more than fifty, but in Western Europe it collapsed – the Church remained.  In the East, the question is, when will Communism fall?  The Church is being heavily persecuted – it’s now illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to go to church, and if you are a Christian you can lose your job and be refused medical treatment – all for being a follower of Christ.  The Chinese government say they are trying to “Sinicise” religion, make it more Chinese – in other words they want to alter it to fit their ideas.  We know that Christ will triumph in the end, it’s just a matter of when.  And in our own society, how long will it take before things turn a corner and we have a new springtime in the Church and in our country?  We wait in joyful hope.  But perhaps the most important thing is not to look at others, but to look at ourselves.  How far do we allow Christ to reign in our lives, and how much do we want to be sovereign instead?  That is a painful question.


In the Second Book of Maccabees, which is one of the books of the Old Testament, found in Catholic Bibles but not in all Protestant ones, Judas Maccabaeus made the following discovery:  after one of their battles, when they were arranging to take their fallen comrades and bury them, they found that all those who had fallen were carrying amulets of the idols of Jamnia.  If you’re wondering what an amulet is, the Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as “an ornament or small piece of jewellery thought to give protection against evil, danger or disease”.  These were people of divided loyalty, who were supposed to be fighting for God, but were also trusting in idols as well.  Maybe they thought God wasn’t strong enough, or they just wanted to hedge their bets.  If we look at our own hearts, we can find things in our lives that can be idols, that we perhaps trust in more than God, that make us people of divided loyalty.


When Judas Maccabaeus and his followers discovered what had happened, they didn’t bitterly reject their compromised comrades that had fallen.  Instead, they prayed to God for their sins to be forgiven, and arranged for a sacrifice to be offered in Jerusalem in atonement for their sins.  We know that God is merciful.  Today, we do something similar.  In this month of November, dedicated to the Holy Souls, we pray for those who have died, light candles for them, and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  We also hope that when we go, others will do the same for us.  We don’t claim to be any less needy of God’s mercy than anyone else.  But we give thanks for the ways in which Christ has reigned in us, and in our departed loved ones, and we look forward to the glory of heaven, where Christ reigns in all His fullness and splendour.  As we know, “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).