Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
Feast of Christ the King.
Christ Our Lord claims allegiance over the hearts of all men and women. The Gospel tells us that he will be the one whom God has chosen to judge the people of all nations. His guiding rule will be as follows: `As long as you did it to one of these, the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it to me`.
CHRIST THE KING
The days of absolute monarchy in Europe ended in the 18th Century.As you know we still have hereditary monarchies around the world of which the best known is perhaps the British Monarchy – Queen Elizabeth and the English Royal family. She has had successful visits both to Ireland (her first) last year and to Australia just recently. Unlike Ireland which is a republic , Australia is still a monarchy . However though the Queen has fulfilled her duties with great dignity and devotion for 50 years, we have moved away from the idea that someone of priveleged royal birth should lead us and make our laws, as happened with monarchs of old. We now laud full democracy where everyone feels that they themselves are fully represented in the decisions that determine their lives. However we should remember that every system is far from perfect..A point that might escape us about American democracy for example is that you have to be enormously wealthy to stand for election in the first place .This means that you have to be a member of a wealthy corps of capitalists in order to head this democracy.
Today we gather around a different leader who exercises a very different kind of power.Towards the end of the liturgical year we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. His kingdom, as he proclaimed, is not of this world but is a kingdom of truth and goodness, of joy and peace.Jesus is king and centre of all hearts as the beautiful phrase in the litany of the sacred heart has it. Jim Reeves had a song one time which said “I played an ace and I won a queen, you made me king of your heart”.
It is true that Jesus Christ is trying to compete with Jim Reeves and the more raucous minstrels of today, for the allegiance of young peoples` hearts.In a way this is not just my own far-fetched idea..Many years ago at the height of their popularity the Beatles claimed that they were more popular than Jesus Christ.But the Beatles` active career only lasted . a few years whereas Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Kings traditionally were all in all.They had everything and everybody at their beck and call.They were in a position to bestow unlimited bounty on those whom they favoured.
When I think of the place Jesus Christ should occupy in our hearts I turn to the teaching of the Carmelite doctor St.John of the Cross.In his great poem, ` The Spiritual Canticle` ,he writes;
`My beloved is the mountains,and lonely wooded valleys strange islands and resounding rivers,the whistling of love-stirring breezes,
The tranquil night,at the time of the rising dawn,silent music,sounding solitude,the supper that refreshes and deepens love.`
This is a poetic statement of what John experienced in possessing Christ.He himself comments on his own poem and I would like to share his explanation with you in some of his own words . He tells us what is available to us if we try to be committed Christians.These are the gifts of the king to those who love him.
`The person sees and tastes abundance and great riches in this divine union.She finds all the rest and recreation she desires and knows secrets about God which is another one of the foods that taste best to her.She experiences in God an awesome power and strength which sweeps away every other power and strength.`
And he goes on: ` She tastes there a splendid spiritual sweetness and gratification,discovers true quiet and divine light, and tastes sublimely the wisdom of God reflected in the harmony of his creatures and works.She has the feeling of being filled with blessings and of being empted of evils and far removed from them.And above all she understands and enjoys inestimable refreshment of love which confirms her in love.`
As I place these reflections on our parish webpage today, November 19th. I`m aware that it’s the feast of St. Raphael Kalinowski who was an outstanding disciple of St. John of the Cross and only the second male Carmelite to be canonized since that of John himself. This gives him a unique distinction , especially as he has drawn attention to the holiness to which John`s teaching and example leads, in relatively modern times, dying as he did in the twentieth century. See another entry on our webpage for Raphael`s thoughts on following Christ our King. You will find images and further information of St. Raphael under carmelite.com . Just google that address and open page on `our saints`
Fr. Tadgh Tierney ocd