Christ the King

Surprisingly I love this Feast! It is surprising because I am a feminist and in no way a Royalist. It also goes against my Irish roots and my liberal tendencies.

But perhaps it is because of the line that ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ that I can so easily buy into the image.

Christ as King is so counter to the world’s idea of Royalty that the sense of other, the rule breaker, the questioner, inside of me can rejoice.

I also have a deep seated need to belong, to be known, to be loved in my entirety, which it is not something to be shouted from the rooftops in today’s society: a society that prides itself on privacy and independence, and values individuality most highly.  This was brought in to sharp relief this week at work.

Over the last week my work has enabled me to connect with just under 90 families as the Sacramental preparation programmes all begin.

For many of these families an extra ‘activity'(which is often how catechesis is viewed) causes a dilemma: what to give up, how to make room in an already overcrowded schedule. Our families buy into the ‘having it all’ ideology. The parents’ want their children to ‘belong’ to all forms of clubs and groups. They gladly pay into the demands and constraints that this brings in belief that these activities will enable their children to be all they can be. Yet the preparation for the Sacraments of Communion and Confirmation, which lead to full initiation into being part of the family of God, do not hold the same weight in decision making. Many of these parents implicitly question the need for catechesis…why so many sessions? Do we have to go to all of them? How many can we miss? My child can’t do that evening, can you move the sessions?

The understanding that of all the activities we could sign our children up for, nothing is more essential than Catechesis is lost. Catechesis reminds us that it is through Christ that we become the fullness of who we are called to be. That we are nothing if we do not depend on the Lord, on the God who created us. We are to centre our life on Christ our King. And therein lies the rub.

Christ the King Tapestry

Naming Christ as my King means that I willingly everyday offer my life for Him. As His citizen I answer the call to work for His Kingdom: to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned. And when I fail to get it right being able to claim Christ as King means I can bow before the One who loves me. One, who as King does not force my allegiance through fear or coercion, but to whom I can give willingly my respect and reverence simply because of all that He has done for me, as a response to the way that I am loved, because I belong.

Catechesis does not yield worldly benefits which is difficult to justify to busy parents who want the best for their children. The catechist, modelling Jesus can not force attendance. Catechists desire the community to want to come closer to the Lord. But like Jesus, sometimes we have to watch as they walk away, as they are not ready to fully choose Christ, to allow Him to answer the need to belong to Him.

As catechists there is much work to be done because of course Christ is not MY King but the Universal King. We do not worship in isolation. As the Universal King, we are reminded that we are all children of God and there is nothing or no one that does not belong to Him. After the events of last week in Beirut, Kenya, Paris and Syria it is easy to encompass the victims into that idea.

Harder to see that those instigating the attacks are also loved by God, known to Him in their entirety, just as we are.

 

P.S.

I am listening to the radio as I write and the singer sings…

‘And I don’t want the world to see me,

Because I don’t think that they’d understand.

But when everything seems to be broken

I just want you to know wh0 I am’

Add to fade…

(Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls)

Living the Word
  • Where does Christ’s kingship make a difference to you this week?
  • What, for you, is the reason Jesus was handed over to Pilot?
  • Where does your life ‘testify to the truth’ this week?
For Children
  • Jesus says that His Kingdom is not of this world. What do you imagine His Kingdom to be like?
  • How might you show reverence to Christ your King this week?
For Families
  • When we pray the Our Father we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to become a reality on earth. What does that mean to you?
  • If you choose not to bow down before the Lord – what or who has your allegiance?
 

‘It is absolute fidelity to the principle defined in his own preaching that condemns Jesus. There is no other cause for his death than the love of one’s neighbour lived to the very end.’ (Rene Girard, Theologian)

Prayer

Our Father, Who art in heaven…

 

 

Surrendering to trust

A couple of years ago I was introduced to an idea where, rather than making new year resolutions, I spent time in prayer and waited for a word to come to me. This word would then be something to try to live with or by for the year.

This year the word that the Lord gave me was surrender. Great! I think I’d rather resolve to go to the gym each week.

Too frightened to think much about it, the idea of surrender has been working away in the background of my life. And like so many things it is only on reflection that we see where the Holy Spirit has been gently bringing us to a moment of insight.

That insight came this week, through a painful but (probably) necessary situation.

Proverbs extols me to ‘trust in the Lord and not on my own understanding’. I have been praying and desiring something and then not trusting in the Lord to answer it. I have continually got in the way. And the Lord who never forces His way upon us has waited patiently until I realised that what I thought was trust wasn’t. I was keeping my fingers crossed behind my back. I was giving the Lord a hand. After all the adage says, ‘The Lord helps those who help themselves’. Yet not trusting is painful. Time and time again the Lord waits for me in the pain, willing me to see that it doesn’t have to be this way, because the Trust to which I am being called requires Surrender.

And it is scary!

In the eyes of the world it is foolish, madness, almost inexplicable and totally without reason.

But isn’t that the point? The trust that we are invited to, called to enjoy is out of this world. It is a trust that is unlike anything we know. And that is why it is frightening. I have to let go, to open my hands in order to be able to take hold of what the Lord offers me. It is so big, so wonderful, that I will need both hands to accept it. I am simply not able to hold one hand behind my back, or to hold on to the little bit that I believe suffices because it is better than nothing.

I know that if I want the Lord to be at work in my life, to answer my prayer then I must, as Ignatian Spirituality tells me, be unattached by the outcome. Again I must prayer for His will not mine. What I have been praying for is that God align His will with mine. And trust, I realise requires me to do the opposite.

Trust in You

Of course for me realisation and action are miles apart and I walk a road that I seems to have no end.

I need to be like the Women in this week’s readings. Both gave everything they had, emptied themselves and waited on the Lord to replenish them. And He did. The Gospel story of the Widow’s mite is not simply one about greed or generosity, but of trust. The widow gave all she had, her life. She didn’t try to help, she held nothing back. She trusted that the Lord would not leave her destitute, which in those days was a distinct possibility.

My heart knows that the Lord will provide, that through such trust I will be given more than I can imagine.

So why does my head insist that I keep a little back for a rainy day? That I still keep my fingers crossed behind my back?

Let go and let God
Living the Word
  • How does it feel to know that the Lord observes you in all that you do this week?
  • Where are you tempted to hold back in your relationship with the Lord this week?
  • How might you come a little closer to the widow’s way of giving this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • How good are you at sharing? When is it difficult?
  • Draw 2 coins In one draw something that reminds you of something someone has done for you this week. In the other draw something that reminds you to do something for someone else.
Living the Word for Families
  • Talk about generosity – what does it mean to give all you have?
  • Why do we find that difficult?
  • How might your trust in God grow this week?