‘Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth’. These words are from The Book of Revelation also known as The Apocalypse. Today’s feast day has traditionally been called ‘Christ the King’ although just to emphasise the point that he is in fact King of all creation you will quite often come across such titles as ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Some Christians have difficulty in relating to the Son of God as a king, perhaps because the only comparison we have is with the earthly kings of history and the present day, many of whom have let the side down. You don’t have t be a historian to realise that this relational conundrum could be due to a number of reasons, kingly aloofness and unapproachableness, wealth and splendour, redundancy and relevance, corruption and despotism.
But, of course, this only happens when we immerse ourselves in the world too much instead of in the scriptures and the liturgy of the Church. Here you will find the selfless Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd and, last but not least, the humble king riding into Jerusalem on a colt. Jesus was approachable, people were drawn to him in their hundreds, he gathered the little children to himself and demonstrated his love, compassion and tenderness to all who came to him, many of them in desperation. He did not possess a massive ego and was not obsessed with power. He did not come to crush but liberate, to enable people to see the truth and receive salvation. This is our king!
The Jesuit priest and writer Vima Dasan once wrote that as Christians we do not celebrate the feast of Christ the King with ‘gunshots in the morning, military parade in the after-noon and presentation of arms in the evening’.
Obviously this would not be appropriate but how do we celebrate Jesus Christ as king. Perhaps we need look no further than Jesus’ triumphant entry into the holy city of Jerusalem when the jubilant crowd greeted him with the laying of palms and joyful cries of ‘Hosanna’.
On this great feast day let us all truly celebrate with all our heart and strength, in whatever way we can, wherever we are and whoever we are with, this wonderful King of kings who desires so much that we be his loyal subjects and build up his kingdom.
A NEW BEGINNING
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ (Rev.1:8). Again, I quote from our second reading for this Sunday’s feast. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, a quality attributed to God as the originator of all things, the one who spans the beginning and end of time and is outside of time. In two other parts of this mysterious and intriguing book Christ declares himself to be the Alpha and Omega. In one of them he proclaims, ‘Do not be afraid, it is I, the first and the last; I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever’.
When Jesus walked this earth he was constantly breathing new life into all those he encountered whose hearts and minds were open to him, and he was continually creating situations where searchers, seekers and even the curious and sceptical, were given the opportunity to walk away from past sins and begin again.
We are called to do this as his followers. We are reminded in Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelism in the Modern World) that ‘the Church exists to evangelise’ (EN 14). That means each and every one of us is involved in this wonderful privilege. ‘It is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelise, and the work of each individual member is important to the whole’ (EN 15). There is no escape, everyone has a part to play.
Which brings me back to Alpha and more specifically Alpha, the course which I am hoping to put on in the parish from late April to early July of next year. Alpha has been described as being for everyone: all backgrounds, all contexts, all ages. It is a series of interactive sessions exploring the Christian faith and it has three things in common, food, talk and good conversation.
You will be reassured to know that I am not working alone on this; I currently have an enthusiastic and supportive team lending their ideas to this initiative and if it wasn’t for them nothing would ever get done! Having said all that, we will need many more people to get involved and I feel sure as we move into next year and the need arises, the good Lord will provide.
Please pray for Alpha’s success, that it will be a new beginning not only for those who are returning to the Christian faith, those of other faiths and none but also for us in St Edmund’s for as it states in Evengelii Nuntiandi, ‘the Church is an evangeliser, but she begins by being evangelised herself’ (EN 15).