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Homily for Christ the King, 20 November 2016: In the Name of the Trinity

The three words Lord Jesus Christ speak to the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: Lord, to the Father; Jesus, to the Son; and Christ, to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father and so is also called Lord. He is anointed with the Holy Spirit and so is also called Christ, which means the Anointed One. Jesus is where the Trinity abides and works to “save us from our sins”, as the name Jesus itself means. So the title Lord Jesus Christ contains within it our entire faith in God, in his loving design of creation and in his even greater loving design of redemption.

It’s no surprise, then, that we make the sign of the Cross using the Name of the Holy Trinity. From forehead to breast, the Father sends the Son, born and crucified for us. From left to right, the Holy Spirit transfers us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s wonderful light. The Cross is the work of the Trinity carried out in the incarnate Son. Christ’s love which gave paradise to the lost man who repented on his cross, is merely the expression in human time and space for that one person of the exchange of eternal love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The pierced Heart of Christ opened for the good thief, hence for every sinner and for the universe itself, the floodgates of eternal love, redeeming love, healing love, sanctifying love, glorifying love.

So the Mass is not the work of Jesus alone. It is the work of the Holy Trinity. At so many points in the Mass we profess this. Look at the Gloria and the Creed. Both of these follow the pattern of the Trinity as we say them. The opening prayer which the priest says before the readings ends in glorifying the Trinity: Father, we ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Spirit. Just before the words of consecration, the priest asks the Father to send the Spirit to transform the gifts into the body and blood of the Son. The Eucharistic prayer ends with the great doxology, or word of glory: through him, with him, in him, all glory and honour is yours Almighty Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

When you receive Holy Communion, yes you receive the risen Christ, but it is the risen Christ who is inseparable from the Father and who with the Father comes to us in the Spirit. The wonder of the body and blood of Christ is that it is our doorway into the glorious life of Most Holy Trinity, that first of all communities and communions. Through the Eucharist we step into God; we are steeped in God; we are more received by God than we receive Him. This means we are never alone. God is neither far, early nor late because no space and no time separates us from Him. Because of Jesus, God dwells in each of us and so is with us, not metaphorically but more really than we are with our own selves. Every here and every now the Trinity is attentive to every one. It is a beautiful and simple prayer just to repeat quietly and lovingly the words of St. Patrick: Christ be beside me, before me, within me, above me. To know yourself surrounded and penetrated and held together by Him.

Jesus endured all he did for us to make it possible for us to make prayers like that an expression of the present truth, and not only of a distant hope. Christ within us is the meaning of Christ the King and of his Kingdom. We belong nowhere else, to no-one else. We have no other King, for there is none. He is not a figure-head king. His kingship is real. He is King of the universe and King of my universe. He is by definition King and Lord of my whole life, my whole being. C.S. Lewis once warned against admitting the Lord only to our inner drawing room, the posh room where we save face. If we keep control over Christ by refusing him entry into all the rooms in our inner castle, we are just like the men who arrested and incarcerated him. To refuse Christ entry into our entire lives is to keep him sealed in the tomb. It is effectively to deny his Resurrection, even although we say we believe in it. Christ is either Lord of the whole of our lives, or we are playing at Christianity. The exclusion of Christ from personal, family, social and national life in the name of a false understanding of what is secular has led to the implosion of Christianity in the West. It’s hard to see how it will not also logically lead to the implosion of society itself. The signs already stare us in the face. We must not try and tame Christ but find the healing of our lives, our culture and our society in Him.

So what does it mean, for example, for Jesus to be Lord and King of my family life? It means I do not attempt myself to dominate and rule it. It means treating family members as ends in themselves and not as means to my ends. It means the demise of manipulation by parents of children or vice-versa. It means giving first place to Christ in the home, in the priorities set, the decisions taken, the values espoused. How can a family be truly Catholic if shopping or sport or academic ambitions are preferred to Mass, to prayer, to a Catholic moral code? All these things are good and welcome, provided they don’t elbow Christ out of first place and as long as they fit in with a Christ-like life. Otherwise, they will take over.

What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord and King of my personal life? It means setting time aside to be with Him, for a heart to heart with him. You may say you don’t know how to pray. Well, find out. There are plenty of helps to be found by the one who searches. To pray is not complicated. It is child’s play, or better, child’s pray. A word from the Gospel, a simple prayer like, “Lord Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, have mercy on me, help me.” Another question which puts to the test whether Jesus is my Lord and King is this: would I still be comfortable doing all I do in private in the presence of Jesus? If not, Jesus is still not King of my whole life, my whole self.

What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord and King of my body? It means that I love and respect my body as does Jesus; that I look after it and don’t abuse it through alcohol, drugs, immoral actions; that I try to be as fit as I can be so that I am free in my body to serve my King and his will for me. It means I realise my body is destined for the Resurrection, that it will participate in God.

We have to liberate ourselves from the easy notion that our relationship with Jesus is just Mass on Sunday, preferably a “quickie”, as if Mass were merely a formality. We are so easily prone to believe the deceit of our world of appearances that real happiness and meaning are to be found in material things or the latest experience, when, in fact, few of them are worthy of our human dignity, never mind our Catholic consecration. For a serious Catholic, Mass on Sunday is where my whole life finds its deepest truth and the pathway to the eternal King and his Kingdom. What He has done for us, what He wants for us, what He gives us is too wonderful, too magnificent, too sacred to deserve anything less than the love of all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. As one Cardinal recently entitled his biography, “God or nothing.” Mass must bring us to know what that means.

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