In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we celebrate the solemnity of Christ The King, and it’s a really an awkward one.
It can be a difficult one because none of us like to be subject to anything do we. None of us like to be told what to do. We live in a world that says, well, if you feel this is the right thing, then go and do it.
And we don’t like being told that we are wrong and that perhaps our feelings may not be leading us to ultimate truth.
That problem is fairly modern, much like this solemnity. It was introduced in 1925 after the First World War by Pope Pius, and he instituted it in the wake of the chaos the war brought around it with people asking so many questions about life and existence and their place within the world.
It was introduced because Pope Pius wanted us to do and then think – so, he said that we could create and we could write and we could read lots and lots of books and we could study, and that would certainly help – and we should do that.
But sometimes, the easiest way to understand the will of God is to simply subjectyourself to it, to do and then to learn. And of course, kingship and being the king, being the master of the house is imagery that exists right the way through scripture, so Pope Pius wasn’t calling on anything new to give us an image upon which we could start to think about how we lived our lives subject to God and subject to his teachings.
Now, if you’ve been watching Daily Mass this week, the readings have really all been about that, about how we subject ourselves to God’s law, how we subject ourselves to God’s teaching, and how we subject ourselves to living a good Christian life. And it’s no accident that this theme occurs just as we come into Advent, as we start to prepare for the coming of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th. It helps us frame our thinking of where we are and who we are and how we live our lives.
And it points us to the scripture and the teachings that help us live those good lives.
I’ve preached before – fairly fiercely – that our feelings should be SUBJECT to God, not God SUBJECT to our feelings.
We don’t approach scripture with an idea in our mind already. We approach scripture and we approach teaching open to what God has to say to us.
And that’s the work of a lifetime. That’s what our religious communities do day in, day out, attempt to find a place where they can be open to what God says to us in our daily lives.
Fortunately, we don’t all have to become monks and nuns in order to start to understand what it is God is calling us to do. And in fact, our scripture today gives us an example, gives us a command of exactly what it is we are supposed to do.
If you don’t understand what it means to be subject to God in his kingship, then our gospel tells you exactly what that looks like.
For when I was hungry, you gave me food, when I was thirsty, you gave me drink when I was a stranger, you made me welcome naked and you clothed me sick and you visited me in prison and you came to see me.
These are calls for corporal works of mercy, the works that we are commanded to do in the world.
And there’s no ifs, ands or buts or maybes about this command. There’s no way to interpret this scripture in any other way than if you do these things then you will be part of my kingdom.
These things happen because of our faith, these things happen because we believe in Jesus Christ, because we have fully accepted him into who we are, because we are open to the action and the work of the Holy Spirit in our life, regardless of the outcome.
So when you see somebody hungry, your reaction should not be, well, are they really hungry or are they going to spend anything that I give them on drugs? Are they going to sell something and go do something else?
You feed them; I’ll give you an example. A wonderful example this week of a of a person from this church who was walking down his high street, saw a man in the street begging and hungry. We’ve all done that in Hayes.
We’ve all walked past the beggars in the street in Hayes. And walked by, not done anything, and this person walked on by and got a few steps further down the high street and stopped, turned on their heel, went back to the person who was begging and said really kindly and very gently,
“listen, there’s some food at the church. There’s somebody there. If you go there now, you can have a hot drink, you can have some hot food. There are people to talk to there as well, why don’t you go down?”
And so the man said, OK, I’ll have a little think about it, and then a little later he came down to church and he walked through these doors and he got a hot drink. He got some food, he got some clean socks. And we had a chat.
We made some phone calls and we put some stuff together. And that man now knows that there are people in the world who love him, who value him, who are worried about it. He knows that Jesus loves him.
That’s what it means to be subject to Jesus Christ, king of the universe, that’s what it means to be subject to his love in the world – that’s the practical reality.
It doesn’t matter what you feel about that person on the on the street begging, it doesn’t matter what you feel about what the government is or isn’t doing about it, it doesn’t matter what you think the council should be doing about it.
You are commanded by Jesus Christ. To feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick and the prisoner.
That is what it means to DO and then think.