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Thy Kingdom come!


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Pastoral Message of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP for the Solemnity of Christ the King, 24 November 2013

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP.

The ancient prophets and visionaries talked of a mysterious Son of Man given an honoured place in heaven as king of all peoples.

We know that this is Jesus and the last pages of the Bible imagine the time when we will all gather around God’s throne and sing: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and honour and glory forever”.

‘Awesome’ might be a better word today than ‘worthy’. Christ inspires awe, reverence, even dread, like a tsunami; yet is sublime, beautiful, exciting, like a sunset. He is awesome!

As we celebrate Him today and come to the end of our Year of Faith, I’d like to offer you something to ‘chew over’ when you can make the time. I want to offer you a few thoughts on what it means for Christ to be our King and for us to live as members of His kingdom.

As we prepare to launch a diocesan pastoral plan next year, we must each ask how we can best become “fit for the Kingdom”. So please take home a printed copy of my letter letter.

The Year of Faith marked the golden jubilee of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It taught that “the invisible God, out of the abundance of His love, speaks to human beings as friends. He lives among them, so that He might bring them into fellowship with Himself.”

Jesus Christ knocks at the door of our hearts because He wants a personal relationship with us. He invites us into the Kingdom of God now and forever. But He leaves us free to respond or not.

That invitation and response is faith. We freely accept Him as “my Lord and my God” and submit our mind and will to God and all He reveals.

Because of Who we believe in, we can rely upon what is promised. We trust in God, knowing that despite our struggles all will be well.

What does it mean for Christ to reign in individual hearts and lives? The Council reminded us that every Christian is called to holiness – not just the spiritual storm troopers like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.

All the baptised are called to the fullness of Christian life and the perfection of love. Every human being is invited into God’s Kingdom: mighty or lowly, married or single, young or old, people of every nation. And we bring our unique temperaments, experiences and challenges with us.

We all have different ways to contribute. I pray that some of you will have the courage and generosity to offer yourselves for service as clergy or religious. Others as spouses and parents making their family a ‘domestic church’ and the first cell of society.

Committed lay people must extend God’s Kingdom into the worlds of work, money, politics, art, science; study, sport, leisure, friendships and devotions. Some do so amidst sickness, disability, imprisonment, loneliness or loss.

All of us together, like yeast pervading the dough of our world, raise it up to God.

From Baptism onwards divine graces purify and direct our personalities to service. We are made part of the royal family of Christ the King.

We must discern God’s call to us, apply ourselves generously to it and persevere in fidelity to that call. We need to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to receive the sacraments of mercy and communion, and to be supported by fellow sinners-becoming-saints.

Which means the Church is no optional extra. “Jesus yes, Church no” is a myth.

Only in His Word – written and interpreted in the teaching Church; only in His Sacraments – celebrated and extended in the worshipping Church; only in His priests and people – struggling to transmit and live His truth and love in our world – do we encounter Christ.

The saints are God’s kingdom come and we must all be saints. The Kingdom of God is at hand; yet still we pray: Thy Kingdom come! We long for eternal life, for that time when God will wipe away every tear, when there will be no more misery or shame, and we will be overwhelmed with joy.

We long for what today’s Preface calls “a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.”

There we will be most truly ourselves. As the greatest sacred art makes clear, the saints are a very diverse group and what distinguishes them is what they did on earth.

As the Second Vatican Council taught: the heaven we hope for includes all the good things about us on earth. We will find in heaven all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise in this life, but now freed of stain and transfigured.

So God’s Kingdom is already present among us in mystery. Advent reminds us that when Christ returns it will be brought to full flower. And so we pray: Come Lord Jesus! Come awesome King! Thy Kingdom come!

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