Time to recognise Christ in others

a word from bishop les 2 350px

We are all well prepared to remember to pray for the Holy Souls and All Saints and seek their prayers at the beginning of November.

The saints we celebrate were men and women like us. Where we are now they used to be and where they are now we hope to be someday! Remembering those who have died also gives us a reminder of our eternal destiny.

During November, as in all of Ordinary Time in the Church’s year (time prior to Lent and after Pentecost), the Liturgy signifies and expresses the regenerated life from the coming of the Holy Spirit.

As we come to the end of the Church year, in the readings of Mass each Sunday, we are asked to consider the end times, our own as well as the world’s. So during this month of November, let us reflect on the communion of saints; the saints in heaven, the holy souls and ourselves, the Church on Earth.

It is widely known that our previous Pope, Benedict XVI, called the Church to observe a ‘Year of Faith’. The beginning of the Year of Faith coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This Year of Faith will continue until the Solemnity of Christ the King at the end of November this year. The Feast of Christ the King is a moveable feast. It is celebrated on the final Sunday of the liturgical year, which is the last Sunday before Advent begins.

History teaches that it is not uncommon for there to be a period of upheaval in the wake of a council of the Church, and the years following the Vatican II seem to illustrate that general rule.

Yet, as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have taught us, we should be deeply grateful for the Second Vatican Council and for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, both of which brim with the truth and beauty of the faith, even as they help us look to what lies ahead. And, by the way, is joy not a Fruit of the Holy Spirit? If we continue to open our hearts to the faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will indeed experience joy – as individuals and as a community of faith.

However, we do not expect that a Year of Faith will eradicate decades of scepticism, doubt, unbelief or indifference. It is our oneness of faith, hope and charity which makes the Gospel in every age alive and vibrant and, we hope and pray, attractive to those who have no faith, as well as to those who are hostile or indifferent to it.

Like a well-observed wedding anniversary, the Year of Faith is a time for a renewed meeting of minds and hearts around that which is utterly fundamental in our lives of faith. It is a time for a new beginning that will take us to new heights of holiness and evangelisation.

Speaking in Rome on May 15 this year, Pope Francis said that Catholics can’t put their faith on a part-time schedule or rely on it just for the moments they choose; being Christian is a full-time occupation!

“If people don’t open their hearts to the Holy Spirit to let God purify and enlighten them, then “our being Christian will be superficial,” the Pope said  at his weekly general audience.

Therefore, through this feast of Christ the King, on which day the Year of Faith concludes, the Church is saying that all of our celebrations can be summed up in one statement: “Jesus is our King”,  we serve Him!

Christ is present in every aspect of our lives. Christ is present in those people we meet who are prayerful, spiritual and charismatic.  But He is also present in those who may not even recognise His presence in their lives. He is present in those mocked by our society.  When we greet someone who is a bit eccentric and who everyone else treats poorly, we are greeting Christ. When we give help to a family struggling to make ends meet, we are helping Christ.

To profess ourselves as Christian, demands that we make a clear and conscious decision to integrate Christ into every thread and fibre of the fabric of our lives.  There can never be a time or a situation that we refuse to recognise His presence in others. The end of the Church year, the end of time, the last judgement, the solemnity of Christ the King – all these themes fit together as we meditate on the Gospel during the month of November.  

At the conclusion of the Church year we are asked what the Christ event means in our lives. We are asked about our world view. Do we view others as those loved by Christ, as those who Christ is present in, or are we so tied up in ourselves that we rarely integrate our living of the Christian life with our profession of faith?

We conclude the Church year and the Year of Faith by asking the Lord to help us serve the King of Kings as He presents Himself in those reaching out to us. ‘The heart of the message of the Second Vatican Council lies precisely in the desire to proclaim this ever-valid treasure of the faith to the persons of our time’

- Bishop Les Tomlinson, Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst, November 2013