The Feast of Christ the King brings to a close our liturgical year and invites us again to reflect on the place of Jesus Christ in our lives. The question for this time is: What is the kingdom all about, asks Brian Heenan, Bishop of Rockhampton.
In the readings for the occasion, Jesus is presented as a shepherd (Ezekiel), the first to rise in the resurrection (Corinthians) and the judge who will examine how we have cared for one another.
The title ‘King’ means less and less in our modern world and for disciples of Jesus, it finds its deepest meaning in the words of the much loved hymn where Jesus is described as The King of Love on Calvary.
So, once again love becomes the key to Jesus’ kingdom, love emerges as the sign that we have understood the call to discipleship.
At this time of the year, we look back on the 2011 in Australia where we have had devastating natural disasters; floods and fires, the tragic loss of life of our soldiers in Afghanistan, political uncertainty at Federal and State level and so much more. Within the Church, we have recently had the Australian Bishops Ad Limina visit to Rome, and the sadness of the retirement of a truly pastoral bishop.
We may add our experiences in our own journey this year and rediscover that life in the kingdom is fraught with dying and rising experiences, in a society which is far from perfect. Yet, it is in this world, in this market place, that Jesus laboured and He challenges us to work there with Him.
One of the strengths of the kingdom is that we are in it together, and we draw spiritual energy from one another. We find inspiration in people like Mother Theresa and much closer to home, Saint Mary MacKillop, who has shown us how to translate the kingdom values into our everyday living.
Recently in our Diocese, we farewelled an extraordinary priest in the person of Father Michael Hayes, who was aged eighty-five years old, and who had celebrated sixty-one years of priestly ministry.
Michael Hayes could be described as a ‘man for all seasons’ a person whose sole focus was to be there for others. He will be remembered for a lifetime of support for Aboriginal and Islander peoples, but his outreach was to all.
He simply believed that every person, regardless of their circumstances, their belief, or lack of belief, was precious and deserving of dignity and support. He put that belief into practice right to his dying day.
As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, may we discover again that it is a Kingdom of Love, operating in a broken world, but drawing on the power of Christ the King and the inspiration of many around us who live their lives in love.