Early on a Saturday morning, a middle-aged pastor was on the golf course preparing to tee off. (Since I don’t golf, you know the story’s not about me!) He was playing alone so he was glad when a stranger asked if he could join him for the round.
After they’d finished 18 holes, the stranger said, “I really enjoyed playing with you. Would you like to join me again tomorrow morning?”
The pastor replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t. I work on Sunday mornings.” Puzzled, the stranger asked, “What on earth do you do on Sunday mornings?” To which the pastor replied, “You know, I’ve been asking myself that question for years.”
I can tell you one thing about that pastor’s parish: the parishioners don’t know what they’re doing on Sunday mornings, either. Because we all need to know what we are doing at Mass if this community is truly to be what God wants it to be.
There’s no secret what that is. The Book of Revelation tells us today in language that’s both glorious and perfectly clear: Jesus “made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.”
There in a dozen words is my identity, your identity, and the identity of this Eucharistic assembly. We are called to be a kingdom of priests. It’s not even something new, because even in the Book of Exodus the Lord tells Moses, “the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation”.
So we’re not only a people ruled by a king, the Lord, but also a royal people called to reign with him (cf. Peter S. Williamson, Revelation, p. 47).
We celebrate Christ’s unique kingship on the Solemnity of Christ the King—both the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel invite us to be his loyal subjects. But on our parish Feast Day, the readings also point us to the wonderful truth that “we will also reign with him” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:12).
Thus, the kingship of Christ has enormous consequences for each and every Christian, because we have a share in it. Here’s what the Catechism says: “Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.” (CCC, 783)
We cannot speak of the kingship of Jesus without speaking of the kingdom. Even to scholars, it’s a mysterious concept and yet Jesus gave the kingdom of God the first place in his preaching. If you open your Bible to the first pages of St. Matthew, you will find that he begins his ministry with the words, “repent, for the kingdom of Heaven has come near.” In Mark, the Lord’s first words are “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near.”
Isn’t it obvious that the Kingdom of God demands our attention? Not just this Sunday but every day. We can’t celebrate Christ the King without celebrating the kingdom of Christ. And we need to celebrate the kingdom of Christ as our inheritance and our destiny. Speaking in some sense to all of us, Jesus promised the apostles at the Last Supper “I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom.”
Many of us speak easily of ‘going to Mass’. How wonderful it would be if we could find a nobler way to describe what we do on Sunday! Although the ministerial priesthood differs essentially from the common priesthood of all the faithful, we all exercise our royal priesthood at Mass. Jesus did not say, “do this in memory of me” only to the ordained priest, but to all of us. We obey his command together.
In the same way, since Jesus also gave us a share in his kingship, we exercise that together. How do we do that? The same way he does: by serving others. As Fr. John Jay Hughes writes, “A religion that is limited to obtaining blessings for ourselves with few consequences in daily life, is not the religion of Jesus Christ.”
Our parish community embraces Christ’s mission with energy and generosity. We serve the poor, prisoners, the young and the old. Our strong commitment to evangelization is nothing less than a commitment to building God’s kingdom on earth. Dedicated to Christ the Redeemer, our parish offers Christ’s sacrifice for the redemption of all God’s children.
We celebrate all of this today as we gather to worship and honour Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. It’s no accident that this solemn feast ends our liturgical year and points us to the day when he will return at the end of time. As members of a ‘royal nation of priests’ we are called to live amid the darkness of our world in the light of what we heard in the second reading: “Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”
Today let’s look at the big picture of Christ the Redeemer Parish. Last night’s Feast Day Fiesta had to be one of the most delightful parish events in our history—and not just because we got to see Father Giovanni dressed like the lead guitarist in a mariachi band. Last evening gathered us together as a family, as friends, and as a community. It surely strengthened the bonds that unite us.
But as we gather for Mass, we go deeper still and ask “what on earth are we doing on Sunday mornings?” We are a family of faith, to be sure. But we’re much more; we’re a kingdom of priests, serving our God and Father as we give him glory in this Eucharist, building his kingdom together as we serve our brothers and sisters in love.