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Sunday 22nd November – Christ the King

Dear Friends

 

Please find attached Readings & Reflections for the Feast of Christ the King which falls tomorrow. We find ourselves at the end of the Church’s liturgical year, turning the following week into Advent and the new cycle of readings and prayers.

 

I would also commend to your prayers the attached notice from the Mothers’ Union regarding an important 16-day Campaign against Gender Violence. There is more information at their website  http://www.mothersunion.ie/ and you can also download the prayer diary which has been specially created for this campaign.

 

With all good wishes

 

Alan

 

 

 

Collect

Eternal Father,

whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven

that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:

Keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit

and in the bond of peace,

and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet,

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 

 

Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24

For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

Psalm 100

  O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth; ♦︎
   serve the Lord with gladness
      and come before his presence with a song.
  Know that the Lord is God; ♦︎
   it is he that has made us and we are his;
      we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
  Enter his gates with thanksgiving
      and his courts with praise; ♦︎
   give thanks to him and bless his name.
  For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting, ♦︎
   and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.

Ephesians 1: 15-23

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love* towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God* put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Matthew 25: 31-46

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

Background of Christ the King

  1. This Sunday The last Sunday in the liturgical year. We begin a new cycle …. Beginning next week with Advent in preparation of Christmas. This final Sunday of the Church year is designated as the Festival of Christ the King

This is not an ancient festival like Easter or Christmas. In fact, it is less than a century old. It was first called by Pope Pius XI in 1925.

Europe was in chaos. Inflation was rampant, and colonialism was at its worst. …… The seeds of evil that were to produce the terror of the Holocaust and World War II were being planted.

Against all this chaos and evil, the Pope established the Festival of Christ the King to declare that Jesus Christ is king….. He is the goal of all human history, the joy of all who hear, and the fulfilment of our aspirations.

 

Thy kingdom come?

How many times have we prayed the Lord’s prayer?  …. And within that prayer ‘ ‘Thy Kingdom come’?

The concept of God’s kingdom is woven so tightly into the fabric of our faith…. But what does this kingdom look like? What kind of king rules?

Do we pause to think about what we pray and the implications of our request? While you might say it is obvious ……. what the kingdom really means is not always easy to answer. We can identify with Pilate’s incredulity during his questioning of Jesus, So you are a king?”

Pilate was confused, for a king in his thinking meant power and grandeur, not the humble, teacher, preacher brought before him for judgement. Something in this picture just didn’t seem right to him

Here was Jesus – A King who rides on a donkey, who washes feet, reaches out to lepers – who’s values are reflected in today’s Gospel reading

That for Pilate and for many, many others, is a very different kind of King and a very different kind of Kingdom … where the first shall be last and the last first .. and tax collectors and prostitutes go marching in ahead of the pious

 

Where is it

So where do we go to look for this Kingdom? …. Many say it is ‘to come’ as in a future happening …. However … wherever Christ is recognized and served as King … there is the Kingdom

We have the natural tendency to set ourselves up as ‘Kings and Queens’ … empowered to take decisions and to judge.. but when we acknowledge that Christ’s authority supersedes ours …. Whenever we look to Christ as the arbiter and the one who has authority over our lives ….. we become members of the Kingdom of God

When we seek to give the hungry food, the thirsty drink; to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and care for the sick; when we visit those who are imprisoned …. We proclaim Christ as our King – and that he reigns in our hearts

C.S. Lewis

 

Today, 22nd November is also the day when the Church remembers C.S. Lewis, author of the ‘Lion and the witch and the wardrobe’, the Narnia series and many books on the Christian faith. [ We also happen to be looking at one – ‘Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on prayer’ in our Wednesday night study groups]

In his book ‘Mere Christianity’ he writes

If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for this present world were just those who thought the most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Lewis is suggesting we become witnesses for Christ when our focus is on the kingdom. However, when our focus is not on the heavenly kingdom, our Christian witness is lost

Perhaps that is why Christ tells us ‘to seek first the Kingdom of God …’

Who or what do we worship?

On this last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year we are posed the question …. Who is ‘King’ of our lives, and, if it is Christ, how then do we live as members of the Kingdom of God

As C.S. Lewis says elsewhere

“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.”

 

 

 

 

 

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

 

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign beginning on 25th November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ending on 10th December, International Human Rights Day.

 Since March 2020 there has been 43% increase in calls to Women’s Aid in Ireland.

It is estimated 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner (UN).

Mothers’ Union works to highlight and combat abuse against men and women throughout the year. During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Against Women, Mothers’ Union, specifically highlight the disproportionate effect of gender-based violence on women.

 

More information can be found on the Mothers’ Union Website

http://www.mothersunion.ie/