Mass for the Solemnity of Christ the King - Sunday 23 November 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Behind me on the pillar is the white marble crucifix fashioned by the German sculptor, Ackerman, for the dedication of the Cathedral one hundred and five years ago.  It stood on that pillar until 1972 when it was relegated for twenty-five years to the sacristy passage.  I had seen it in the Cathedral as a small boy and as a priest.  In that twenty-five years in the passage I came to see its delicacy and importance and I was delighted when the Cathedral authorities decided to reinstate the crucifix as part of the renovations for the centenary.

When we say that Christ is a king, we recognise that he has sway over people’s minds and hearts because of what he did on the cross.  We might define a king as someone who rules over people’s minds and hearts and persons, controls their activities.  Our modern egalitarian systems tend to reject such a concept.

In our understanding of Christ the King we see that Jesus is the Lord of our hearts and lives, not through an ability to command, although we acknowledge and wonder at him as God, but because of what he has done in the infinite love he showed his Father and which he has demonstrated for us.

His love for the Father made him want to come into the world, fulfil his destiny to establish the Eucharist, to sacrifice himself for sin on the cross, to rise from the dead, and open the gateway for us to eternal life.  Christ’s lordship for us exists because of the limitless value of his death, the free choice that he made for us and the wonderful and free invitation which he gives us to be his followers by a similar total and free gift.  Jesus has loved us so much that he breaks the power of evil by his death on the cross and when he is risen he brings us all to life in Christ so that we will be judged by our response to him.

We cannot escape either the loving, merciful Lord who has wrought the forgiveness of our sins, or the consequences of that action which makes us responsible for how we have carried our response to him when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer thy kingdom come.  In the words of Origen, “When a man prays that God’s kingdom may come, he is praying that this kingdom may rise, flourish and reach its full growth.  Every saint is subject to God’s reign and obeys the spiritual laws of God, who dwells in him as in a well-governed city.  The Father is present with him and Christ reigns with the Father in the soul.”

The challenge therefore, if God is to live in us, is to acknowledge that good and evil, light and dark, Christ and the devil, cannot be partners.  If we have sin then we cannot be in the kingdom of God.

Today as we celebrate Christ the King, the Lord gives us at the same time a wonderful invitation and an absolute imperative.  A wonderful invitation, 'Come you blessed of my Father', and an imperative that we will be judged upon our response to Christ. 

We have to make a definite decision today to be his followers, to reject sin and not to put off either our decision or the action.  The words in the Book of Revelation are Jesus’ invitation to us.  “Look, I am standing at the door knocking.  If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal side by side with him.  Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne.”  The invitation is an absolute one:  to make Jesus the centre of our life, to renounce sin as a reality here and now, to seek sacramental forgiveness and, helped by the grace of that wonderful sacrament, to walk in the words of the Psalm, 'the Lord is my shepherd and king, there is nothing I shall want'.

+ Denis J. Hart,


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