Feast of Christ the King
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
26th November 2023
“Christ, King of my heart”
“Have that mind within you that was in Christ Jesus” so wrote St. Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6). It captures so well the vocation of every disciple of Christ. It is an insight that is especially helpful to-day on the Feast of Christ the King, Christ as King of the universe. A kingship not of territory but of the human heart and mind and thereby can reign in freedom in all human hearts.
The difference between kingship in the territorial sense is the nature of the exercise of power. Human territorial kingship is invariably power over, an imposed and controlling authority; whereas Christ’s kingship is a power given through and with the person of Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In that sense Christian discipleship is always an invitation in freedom to have Christ Jesus as king, ruler and guide of my life, through mind and heart.
This reality when understood, accepted and cherished is an extraordinary privilege and grace. Further, we can add when society embraces this understanding of the Gospel message the good of humanity, the common good is advanced too.
Currently in Ireland and in much of the western world that Christian vision and presence is under pressure from political forces that seek to marginalise and even neutralise the presence of the Church in society. We ourselves must take some responsibility for these forces of opposition. For a recent part of our history the Church’s self-understanding and way of operating used strong militaristic images that conveyed an arrogance, a lack of humility and harshness. This gave rise to great hurt and emotional resentment on the part of many. The consequence is that the way the Church ministered drove many away in hurt and anger – away not just from Church practice but from the love of God too – because they equated one with the other. We in leadership in dioceses and parishes live with that legacy of hurt – we seek to recognise and accept it in shame and humility. The inspiration to have the mind of Christ – the shepherd / king moves us to bring healing and hope. It is a difficult road for all to travel.
Aside from the legacy of hurt we also on the other hand have a legacy of great compassion and mercy which we need to acknowledge and appreciate. We usually have great gratitude and appreciation for what our parents have done for us and the sacrifices they made. We need equally, in justice, to gratefully acknowledge the generosity of a great cohort of religious women and men who gave their lives in service of the poor and other kinds of need when social welfare was nothing like it is to-day. Many of these men and women have gone to God now but there are many still in the twilight of their lives we need to continue to cherish and value their legacy.
As we look forward to the future prospects for Christian disciples one must be concerned that a great indifference and apathy prevails. It is disturbing to think that so many in a broad spectrum of leadership fail to make the link between the unravelling of our social fabric and the legislative dismantling of pillars that support marriage, family and individuals as they
seek to have that mind within them that was in Christ Jesus. It’s easy to tear down past failures. Its much more difficult to replace.