He will come again in glory - Feast of Christ the King 2018 (B)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > He will come again in glory - Feast of Christ the King 2018 (B)

After the Consecration at Mass we are asked to proclaim our faith. The proclamation that follows is probably the most succinct Christian creedal statement. We say, in the first of the acclamations, “We proclaim your death O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.”

These words announce our essential belief as Christians: that Christ died for us, He rose again from the dead, and He will come again in glory.

The Book of the Apocalypse, the last book of the Bible, ends with these words: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’”  And the spontaneous response by the writer is “Come, Lord Jesus”. (Rev 22:20)

The Aramaic word Maranatha expresses the desire of the Church: Come Lord Jesus! This expression is found in I Corinthians (16:22) which simply states, “Come, Lord.” And it is found in early Christian writings, like the first century text, the Didache.  This is the hope-filled and expectant cry of the Church. The Christian looks forward to the coming of the Lord in glory at the end of time.

The first reading today from the prophet Daniel gives us a visionary picture of one, as he says, “like a son of man” taking his place at the right hand of God and being entrusted with universal kingship.

Through the holy Scriptures we know about Jesus of Nazareth as the incarnate Son of God. We know about him from the Gospel testimony. We observe his actions, we hear his words. This feast which concludes the Liturgical Year invites us to fix our gaze heavenward and invites us to behold Jesus now as universal king, glorious in majesty.

We are invited to consider the consummation of human history, the end of time. This life is passing. This earth is passing. In the end there is the eternal kingdom of God. All of history will be subsumed into this kingdom.

In the end there will be only God revealed in full splendour and we will see him “face to face”. St Paul says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (I Cor 13:12)

Jesus began his public ministry by saying: “Repent for the kingdom of God is close at hand.” He urged his hearers not to live for this world alone, not to fix their gaze on merely earthly things. There is a greater and enduring reality. It is not material. It is not temporal. It is spiritual and it is eternal. This is the final truth of things.

This feast each year calls us to get our perspective on life in right perspective. It calls on us to adjust our gaze and focus on the revelation offered us by God in Christ.

Let us now look up and see with our minds and hearts the heavenly reality depicted for us by St John in the Book of the Apocalypse. Let us listen to his testimony shaped by his visionary experiences of heaven. The Book of the Apocalypse enables us to behold the glory of the Lord. In this book we are invited to witness the angels – in their millions - ministering around the throne of God, singing their great hymn of praise: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts.” St John reveals to us visions of countless numbers of saints – purified, dressed in white, filled with wonder and awe. They sing their hymns of exultant praise. We can sense the overflowing joy. He presents an image of heaven as being full of colour and sound.

In the reading today St John declares: “He has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve His God and Father.” This is our dignity even now. We are being invited by these words to participate even here on earth in the heavenly worship of God. That is why at every Mass we are invited to lift up our hearts and to join with the heavenly worship. We join our voices with those of the angels and we sing with exultant hearts, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts.”

The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, as the Lord said to Pilate in the Gospel. It is a heavenly kingdom, but it will be ushered in by the triumphal return of Christ in glory at the end of time.

St John testifies: “It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who have pierced him.” Christ will be manifest to good and bad alike. 

This will be the moment of the triumph of love over hate, the triumph of light over darkness, the triumph of life over death, the triumph of beatitude over suffering. This is the triumph of the Kingdom of God.

This is the glory that awaits us. It is this vision of the future coming of the Lord that gives us new heart to face the challenges of life right now. This spurs us on in our fidelity to Christ.

So today as we celebrate this wonderful feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, let us lift up our eyes and allow our hearts to be renewed and strengthened. The Lord, the King, stands before us: see him, look at him, gaze at him. He is the Lord of History. He is the triumphant king who will return in glory.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, 25 November 2018