This is the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year. As you may be aware, the Church calendar is quite different from our daily calendar. It finishes with the feast of Christ the King. Then, next week we will begin the new liturgical year, starting with Advent, our waiting for the birth of Jesus into the world.
On this last Sunday of the year, the Church appropriately celebrates the feast of Christ the King. Christ has always been recognised by the Catholic Church as the King of Kings, the feast of Christ the King did not receive official recognition until it was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. It was celebrated in October but after the Second Vatican Council, the feast was moved to the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical calendar. The change was made to emphasise that Christ will reveal to humankind the fullness of his glory as King only at the end of time.
It is also a great chance for us to renew our faith or to reform ourselves in the person of Christ who is known as the King of Kings. The King that we are celebrating this weekend, is completely opposite to many of the earthly kings we may have known from history, with power, authority and always standing higher than everyone else. In the letter of St Paul to the Philippians, St Paul reminds us that our King was in the form of God, but emptied himself to be born in human likeness – then he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The King who accepted death to show his real love and mercy to the world. The King that we are worshipping, always does opposite things from other earthly kings.
The text of the gospel reminds us again of the image of our King, the King that is reflected very well through the lowly and the outcasts. As the Gospel says “Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (Matthew 25:31-46). In addition, through this gospel Jesus entrusted the kingdom to disciples and to us in whom he had complete confidence. We are to give ourselves completely in the service of any who are in need because this is the example that the King himself gave us. The King became the servant of all and gave himself for all those in need. It does not matter to which family or nation or race we belong. We are all part of Jesus’s Kingdom.
The Gospel for this feast is very rich. It invites us to reflect on the differences between earthly kings and Jesus Christ, our King. It gives us a real example of a truly powerful king who gains the power from lowering himself, by serving one and all, not through raising up his voice in ordering people.
Today, also is the feast day of our church in Surrey Hills, Our Holy Redeemer. It is the feast in which we are invited to recommit ourselves, as the faith community of the post Covid-19 world. It is the feast on which we should hold before ourselves the image of the King of Kings who teaches us service towards others and invites us to partake in a new faith journey in discovering God’s Kingdom.