Today on the final Sunday of the liturgical year Fr. Hamilton offers a special opportunity for prayer. First, for the intercession of Blessed Stanley Rother on behalf of a young parishioner fighting leukemia and then in recognition of our Lord Jesus as king of this world and, indeed, the entire universe: The Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please join us heartfelt prayer as you listen to this week’s homily.
Dominica XXXIV per Annum (Sollemnitas DNIC Universorum Regis) A
Christ the King
26 November 2017
On this final Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year we come to a grand conclusion in this season when our Scriptures and thoughts give focus to the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell) and focus to the truth of our faith that we believe Jesus will come again. Furthermore, we believe he will come precisely as King and Judge and not merely as a brother or friend. There are demands on us to live in harmony with Jesus in this life. There will be demands on us as we face the reality of judgment before the King who returns in glory at the Second Coming.
The liturgical texts of this Holy Mass draw our attention to some important thoughts. The Collect, the prayer the priest prays at the beginning of Mass, indicates that God’s will is “to restore all things” in the kingship of Jesus the Son. The word “restore” tells us that it is the Father’s plan to repair something to its original condition; to return something or someone to its former condition or place; or to reinstate something that was lost or injured. The Collect goes on to clarify that in the kingship of Jesus the whole creation is “set free from slavery” to sin. In the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, we all contract a fallen human nature. In our personal sins we each personally and individually bear guilt. By these sins we have been injured and we have lost our original condition and place of friendship with God and entrance into Heaven. Thus, it is God Himself, in His immense love and generosity, Who has the plan to restore us in Jesus the Son, King of all time and history, King of the Universe of creation, of all that is visible and invisible.
The first thought this Collect should inspire in us is the gratitude, confidence, and encouragement that it is God Himself Who desires to restore us. But if we truly face that confidence, then the second thought this Collect should inspire is that we simply must ask and admit what has been lost. To bring the ideas of the Collect together, what is our slavery? Do we admit our sins? Do we acknowledge how our slavery to sin keeps us from God the Father’s desire for us and leaves us needing to be restored by His action? Those who confess sins regularly are in a good habit of recognizing their need to be restored by remaining close to God’s action, most especially in the Sacraments. Those who confess regularly are also getting good practice and preparing for judgment because they already judge themselves in this life as they await their full restoration to life in God’s kingdom. This practice of confession, of judging ourselves, needs to be our regular habit too.
Finally, the Collect describes what results when Jesus’ action sets us free from slavery: We render God’s majesty service and we ceaselessly proclaim His praise. How do we render service to God’s majesty? Frankly, by obedience to a life of harmony with God. This obedience is reflected by living in truth, by living a life of faith, and by submitting ourselves in humility to follow the moral law. By obedience we live in the proper way for which we have been made: Namely, we live in friendship with God and this results in harmony within our own nature. We have greater peace and tranquility if we will do the hard work of living in harmony with God by humbling our pride and our inclinations to disobedience. By doing a little study and considering the older forms of the Church’s liturgical texts you gain a richer perspective of all the levels of meaning in the Church’s faith and prayer. Thus, my suggestion that obedience is how we live in harmony with the kingship of Jesus and how we render service to God’s majesty can be seen in the older Collect of the Traditional Latin Mass for Christ the King. That Collect is very similar in wording, however it makes a more direct statement that God’s plan to restore all things in Jesus the King is accomplished by all peoples separated by sin being “brought under the sweet yoke of His [i.e., Jesus’] rule” (Collect, Christ the King, 1962 Missale Romanum). Being brought under the sweet yoke of Jesus’ rule… this is obedience. Returning now to the prayers of the current Mass translation we will hear direct reference to obedience in the Prayer after Communion today which asks that “glorying in obedience to the commands of Christ, the King of the Universe, we may live with him eternally in his heavenly Kingdom.”
We expect children to learn obedience and to observe obedience. But, friends, “obedience” is not simply a word for minors. We ourselves, no matter our majority of age, are children of God. We are called to obey Him. Confession and repentance keeps us on that track and prepares us to meet our Judge, Christ the King, when he comes to restore all things eternally. The gospel gives us a final rallying point. It tells us clearly that it is God’s Kingdom that has been prepared for those who are just. He desires this for us and has prepared it from the foundation of the world. There is another kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. When we choose to remain in serious sin we live in that darkness now and we will inherit it as eternal separation from God. Yet, that kingdom of eternal fire has not been prepared for us; it is not God’s desire for us. Rather, it was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. Therefore, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, let’s desire what God desires for us: His kingdom. To that end I want to make use of an indulgenced prayer for this feast day, which I will now pray on behalf of the whole parish. I invite you to listen and to make these words the desire of your own heart.
[Kneel and pray Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]