On twitter there has been going around a picture of the late Queen Elizabeth with a quotation from her which reads:
“The teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
These few words are as if the Queen’s spiritual testament. In their own way, they respond to some of the key messages from the Word of God which we have just heard. Let’s compare them first to the reading we had from St. Paul.
Queen Elizabeth speaks of trying to live her life for the Lord. St. Paul tells us that, if we live, we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord. May it please the Lord to recognise that, just as the Queen tried to live for Him, so she surrendered her soul in death to him.
The Queen speaks of her own personal accountability before God. St. Paul tells us that we must all stand before the judgment seat of God and that it is to God that each of us must give an account of himself. May it please the Lord, the just and merciful Judge, to accept Queen Elizabeth’s account of her life to Him. Both her life and her death, as St. Paul would say, has had its influence on others. It is He alone who will judge the lasting consequences of that influence and so we commend her to His mercy as He does so.
Let’s now look at the Queen’s spiritual testament in the light of Christ’s words in the Gospel.
Jesus says that whoever listens to his words and believes in the one who sent him has eternal life: without being brought to judgment he has passed from death to life. There is no question that the Queen listened to the words of Jesus and believed in God. She calls Christ’s teaching the framework of her life and she says that she tried to lead her life by His words fully aware of her accountability before God. Jesus says that such a person has eternal life. With this teaching, Jesus is telling us that eternal life is not just for after death, but is present now, is alive now, in the person who listens to him and believes in the Father.
It is by living according to Christ’s word and believing in the Father that we accustom the ears of our soul to hear the voice of Christ. Living now by his Word means that even in death, we will hear his voice call us from the grave to rise up and live. To the degree that Queen Elizabeth lived out her spiritual testament, she died with the ears of her soul wide open and ready to rise again at the voice of the Son of Man.
What about my spiritual testament? What about the ears of my soul? What about my attentiveness to the teachings of Jesus? What of my sense of accountability before God?
One last thing. Many millions of people will have bowed or curtsied to Queen Elizabeth in her lifetime, and many will have praised her. St. Paul tells us that every knee, including Elizabeth Windsor’s, will bend before God and every tongue, including hers, will praise Him. In the final analysis, all royalty comes from God and belongs to God. Queen Elizabeth II knew this from the day of her anointing as earthly sovereign and sought to live it out faithfully until the day she died.
May the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of Jesus, on whose birthday Elizabeth died, now take her by the hand and lead her to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
May the one and only Heavenly Sovereign reward her for trying so hard to live out her queenly oath and grant her the crown of righteousness among all who have died in Christ’s peace.