Feast of Christ the King (c) 2016
Today we celebrate the last Sunday in the Church’s year, and for this reason, to crown the year, the Church is unashamedly triumphalistic; today it chooses to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. In the preface that we shall hear later are the words: ‘As king he claims dominion over all creation, that he may present to you, his almighty Father, an eternal and universal Kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.’ These are beautiful words, a lovely image of the future kingdom, the place where we are all destined. But this kingdom was gained at a terrible price: it cost Christ, the son of God his life on a cross.
Now if God is all powerful, someone who literally can do what he likes, why did He prepare the kingdom in this way? Why did Christ have to die on a cross? He not only died painfully and slowly but also died the death of a common criminal. What a strange way for a loving Father to behave. And yet He did. Have you ever thought sometimes that Christianity is somewhat strange?
On a purely human level it doesn’t make sense. Our world would find it hard to accept the truth of our faith: that it was by suffering that Christ redeemed us, by his death that he brought us new life. It’s not easy to believe: how do we appreciate a faith that sees value in suffering and sees life in death?
It was not only Christ who suffered, all of us suffer in one way or another, and at every age. As a child I suffered. As a teenager I suffered again; what teenager hasn’t? Over the years, like most people, I have had my share of physical aches and pains; and recently I suffered the loss of two siblings, that was indeed suffering. But my life isn’t so different from others. In fact, I know people who have suffered much more in life, by comparison my own sufferings are nothing.
No one gets through life living a fairy tale. No one. It’s hard in the midst of some trial or illness to step back and see the hand of God; to see in faith that this is meant to be. And yet, this is what we Christians are expected to do, if we are to make sense of our lives.
We are to see in his suffering and death our own suffering. We are to believe in faith that our pains and sufferings are all part of life’s rich tapestry. Of course, it is not easy to see this. When you are in the midst of pain and suffering you don’t see very far.
Tapestry is a good image. I like the image of a carpet very much. You see on the underside of a carpet there is not much to look at; it’s pretty messy; there are loose bits of thread, and no colour, just a mish mash, there is no pattern. And that is how we often see our lives: without any pattern, a bit of a mess. But, turn the carpet over, and you see beautiful colours, and a distinct pattern. And this is how God sees our lives. What seems to be a mess to us is all part of God’s design for us. For you and me.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Christ the King. It is celebrating his victory over death and the establishment of his kingdom. It is a day, therefore, of triumph and victory. His victory is our victory. Today, we should rejoice, and give thanks to God the Father.