22 November 2009

¡ Viva Cristo Rey !

Picture the scene. I’m back in seminary and standing in the choir loft with a bird’s-eye view of the chapel. It is the end of Mass and the organ strikes up to play the triumphant hymn, Majesty, worship your Majesty. As the procession departs I catch the eye of the Vice-Rector and, without thinking, make a salute. I’m caught up in the moment. The power and solemnity of the occasion, the influence of the music and the sheer force of the lyric moves me to action and I react in a way so common to the occasion, I stand to attention and give the salute! Can you imagine the trouble I was in after that? It was perceived that I was being irreverent to the occasion. I don’t think I was, but there you go. Rather, in my own way I was moved to be attentive!

If the organ were to strike up the chords of the National Anthem – how many of you would stand. How many of you would think about standing, even if you thought better of it? It is, I think, a natural reaction which is drummed into us as children to be respectful and reverent to the occasion. In the presence of the King (or in our case, the queen) even if it is but the national anthem, not the actual presence of royalty, we respond with dignity and honour. Yet how much more reverent, more dignified and more honourable should be our response when it is the King of Kings.

If standing to attention and saluting would be a recognisable sign of our earthly kingdom, what then would be an appropriate sign for the kingdom of heaven? As Jesus says: “I came into this world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” Ah, so the first thing is to listen to His voice, and then to bear witness to the truth. But the truth is what? Well, elsewhere Jesus tells us ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. This is really important for us. Everywhere we are told that the truth is this, or the truth is that, or worse still the truth is what you think it is. Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. No! The truth is not what, but whom: it is Jesus Christ, the King.

If we are to bear witness, then, to Jesus Christ, what must we do? How will others know that we are subjects of his Kingdom? Well, again, let’s listen to Jesus standing meek before Pilate. He says “if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews.” Given that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, then, we are looking for the antithesis of fighting, and the opposite of fighting and hatred is justice, love and peace. We salute the King of Kings not in what we do, nor indeed in what we do not do, but in who we are and how we live our lives.

So it is to love, to bear witness to love, that we make manifest the kingdom of heaven here on earth. It is both the easiest and the hardest expression we ever utter: I love you. Yet, when we even think about these three little words, we can feel inner warmth growing within us. If we allow ourselves dwell upon them, this warmth grows and eventually manifests itself in a smile; at first on the inside, but eventually it will become an inane grin. You know what I am talking about. It’s addictive. We cannot help ourselves because it is the essence of God. Franklin P Jones said “Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

Today, we celebrate the Young. Today is Youth Sunday and our second collection is for the Catholic Youth Service. We have much to thank our young people for, particularly here in Christ the King parish. We think of the schools, the wonderful witness that our children give to the parish and to those whom they meet; we think of our youth groups and the faith they share with one another but above all we think of the love they show to one another.

I want to end with another scene I want you to picture, one I witnessed in St Augustine’s school. It was a cold and rainy afternoon and one half of the year 6 pupils had returned early from Dol y Moch (the youth centre in Wales). They were housed in a spare classroom, one assumes to prevent disruption in the school. Rumours were flying amongst the other year 6 pupils that the class were back and when eventually they were reunited, they hugged each other simply because they love one another. That is the kingdom of God reigning here on earth.

Blessed Miguel Pro - Pray for us.

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