Saturday, 21 November 2020

Christ the King

 Magnificat has an article by Bishop Hugh Gilbert for the Solemnity of Christ the King, which we celebrate this weekend, at the end of the liturgical year.

The Solemnity of Christ the King has sometimes been called an "idea-feast". It is nothing of the kind. It is the feast of a reality. The reality of Christ's kingship, Christ's kingdom. A bewildering, mysterious reality, even a joke sometimes (at the foot of the cross, for example), and yet more real than any other kingship or kingdom there has ever been. A hidden King, but visible in his sacraments. A king who has come, but is coming again. A kingdom like and unlike, friend and foe to, every other kingdom. A kingdom here and not here, in the world but not of it. The paradoxes are endless....

G.K. Chesterton once remarked that only belonging to the Church sets one free from the degrading slavery of being a child of one's times. And so it is. Affirming, acclaiming this King - You are the Christ, the true King - loosens the clutches of all other competing kingdoms: public opinion, totalitarian governments, market forces, the dogmas of the age, our own addictions, King sin and King death. They all have their day and their sway, but there is something else abroad as well, subverting them all. There is a freedom and a clarity and a kingship of soul in the gift of Jesus the King....

.... surely, we'll find ourselves resolving. We'll find ourselves wanting to live free, with kingship over ourselves, free enough therefore to give ourselves in humble love. Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me. That is the kingdom and the kingship of Christ.

Next Sunday it is Advent, and a new liturgical year, a year for hearing St Mark... At the beginning of his Gospel stand the Beatitudes, at the end these works of mercy.... And in the middle comes the acclamation of St Peter, You are the Christ, the messianic King, the Son of God. Let us live what we hear, proud to have Christ as our King.

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