In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The message of today’s feast of Christ the King is simple yet direct. Are we ready to meet our King? Just as the Church’s year draws to its close, so will the course of each of our lives here on earth.
Jesus fulfils in himself God’s law, God’s teaching: we begin our service by asking pardon for the times when we could have lived up better to our calling as disciples of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, you are the model shepherd, you care for each member of the flock. Lord, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you are the first to be raised from the dead. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you will come again in glory with salvation for your people. Lord, have mercy.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Gloria in excelsis
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
First, O.T. Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12. 15-17: The Lord is exasperated that those who were appointed to look after God’s people have used their position for their own advantage and neglected their responsibilities: the Lord will take care of the flock from now on.
Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Epistle Reading 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. 28: Paul looks forward to the coming of Christ in glory at the end of time.
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46: The trial scene, set at the end of time, reveals God’s judgement on how we have responded to the needs of our fellow human beings.
The Solemnity of Christ the Universal King was instituted by Pope Pius XI as a feast of the Catholic Church in 1925, at a dark time, when the clouds of totalitarianism were rolling over Europe. This was a time when false and shallow conceptions of majesty, based on domination and having nothing to do with love, seemed to have the upper hand. Since 1925 it has been taken up and celebrated by Anglicans, Lutherans and some protestant churches, as the last Sunday, and culmination of the year.
In the face of political troubles continuing in our own time, the celebration of Christ the Universal King is a call to us to see our world by the light of Christ. This is a light in which the “majesty” of so many earthly rulers, the populists, the demagogues and the despots, are shown up as not worthy of respect in comparison with the true and lasting majesty founded on love. Our celebration is also a call to hope, that regardless of what the tides of history might bring, the love of God will ultimately prove victorious: that at the end of the ages Christ the Universal King will come to judge the nations and he will do so in true majesty as the one who wore a crown of thorns.
At the centre of our Christian faith is our conviction that Jesus of Nazareth, who lived a human life and died a human death, is true Son of the Father, and so to be worshipped and adored as God. This form of faith, (which may be characterised as ‘Paradoxical Monotheism,) is unique to Christianity, & is prepared for in the Old Testament, even if it is not stated explicitly. In today’s reading from the prophet Ezekiel, God promises that He Himself will be a shepherd to his people, a promise that we believe is fulfilled by the coming of the Word made flesh, Christ the Good Shepherd. And so we recite Psalm 23 as a hymn to that Good Shepherd, who offers himself to us in Holy Communion and sends us the Spirit to give us all the help we need to live our lives.
For this morning’s Epistle, Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians to make them, and us, understand that the whole of creation has a purpose: the union of all things with God through the offering by Jesus Christ of his own life to the Father.
We Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but that belief has to be lived out in the way we behave towards others. So there is a challenge in today’s gospel from Matthew to each of us. And yet it is easy to read today’s Gospel as being simply about the duty of Christians to minister to the poor and to carry out works of mercy and to miss the point that what matters is that these things are important because they are done to & for the King. So it is not just about a general obligation to feed the poor, etc. although you do not have to look far in the gospels to find that obligation, in fact, you don’t even have to read past the Old Testament to find it. We should note that it is the nations who are gathered for judgement, in other words, the whole of humanity, not just those who belong to the household of faith. Furthermore we should note the surprise expressed by those who had acted rightly, they had no idea of their service to the King. It is in fact about how non-Christians treat Christians. And that may be a surprise!
Today’s feast then, asserts the universality of Christ’s Kingship. In the words of the Preface of today’s Eucharistic prayer, addressed to the Father: “with the oil of gladness you have anointed Christ the Lord, your only Son, to be our great high priest and king of all creation. As priest, he offered himself once for all upon the altar of the cross and redeemed the human race by this perfect sacrifice of peace. As king he claims dominion over all your creatures, that he may bring before your infinite majesty kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. So as we pray every time we say the Lord’s Prayer: ‘thy kingdom come!
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Hosts Heaven and earth are filled with His Glory. Hosanna!
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us and grant us peace
“Spiritual Communion” is recommended at any time we cannot physically receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood. It means that God gives us the grace of the sacrament in response to our real desire to receive it. This does not mean that we can get on just as well without receiving Holy Communion, but rather, if the opportunity of receiving it is denied to us for whatever reason, God will not withhold its grace and blessing from us. Here is a form of prayer we can use.
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me:
Body of Christ, save me:
Blood of Christ, invigorate me:
Water from the side of Christ, wash me:
Passion of Christ, strengthen me:
Cross of Jesus, protect me:
Good Jesu, hear me:
Within your wounds, hide me:
Never let me be separated from you:
From the deadly enemy, defend me:
In the hour of my death call me
and bid me come to you
that with all your saints I may praise you
for ever and ever. Amen.
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God, and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe,and may almighty God bless us, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Copyright notice: As well as my own words I have drawn on material from internet sources including websites of The Church of England and The Dominican Friars, electronic sources including those of Redemptorist Publications, and on printed sources including Days of the Lord The Liturgical Press, Minnesota and This is the word of the Lord Bible Reading Fellowship . Some Copyright material is included from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) and The Christian Year: Calendar, Lectionary and Collects(1997, 1998, 1999) copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.
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