Christ the King, 22nd November, 2020
. . . we meet (the) God of transcendence, (the) God of mystery, only in the earthiness of things. We have no other way of finding God, and we also have no way of escaping God’s presence.(p.5 Gerard W. Hughes: God where are You?)
This is the Jesuit priest and renowned activist and retreat giver, Gerry Hughes, at the beginning of an account of his life in which he’s trying to sort out, just how and why he’s ended up as the person he is, or was, with his particular concern for issues of justice and peace, and yet also as a ‘go to’ spiritual guide. It’s an ‘earthy’ account in the best sense of being fully grounded in the events and people of his life with a close examination of both the feelings which past memories evoke and the reason why they should still echo now. He’s getting to know himself. And this is the thrust of Jesus’ life among us, too: that steady stripping away of the illusions by which we live and, in particular, the dualism we delight in between the ‘natural’ and the ‘supernatural’; the secular and the spiritual; between serving God and serving one another. This earthiness is, of course, enshrined in the concept of God made flesh: the incarnation. Jesus speaks to us as one who knows what it is to be fully human and fully aware when others fall away from this high standard, this dignity we all have, of being made in God’s image and likeness. This is us always within the vision of God. It’s a way of seeing, but we needn’t be afraid of the unrelenting nature of God’s presence, of God’s vision, for the God who stands among us is there, not to condemn, but to watch over us as a shepherd guards his flock. This is the kingship, or kinship, we celebrate today, at the end of yet another liturgical year; yet another year, that is, of getting to know God and ourselves; another year of preparation for that final meeting when the mystery that we are to ourselves, as human, meets the mystery of God and we may at last discover that this mysterious meeting has been taking place all along. And there can be no more ‘earthy’ way of expressing this meeting, this forever presence of God to us and, of us, to God, than Resurrection – our ‘go to’ affirmation that all that God has made was, indeed, good and, in our case, and to our surprise, as with the virtuous in this gospel passage, hopefully ‘very good’. Christ is the key to this being so.