According to “statista.com” the most liked member of the British Royal Family in 2018 is Prince Harry. The question that statista asked members of the general public was, “which members of the Royal Family do you like the most?” The results show that Prince Harry is liked by 42% of British respondents and 23% of worldwide respondents. Judging by the crowds and the buzz Prince Harry stirred up on his recent trip to Australia, it appears that these statistics are pretty accurate. Harry was in the news every day for a week which culminated in his role in the Invictus Games – in the adoring public’s eyes, Harry could do no wrong. The monarchy’s stocks rose considerably due to Harry’s Australian tour. It seems that the House of Windsor headed by Elizabeth II will be governing Australia for quite some time to come. This is despite the next monarch, Prince Charles not ranking very highly on the popularity stakes. Prince Charles is liked by 9% of British respondents and 8% worldwide.
This Sunday, which is the final Sunday in our liturgical year, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The full name for this solemnity is Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. When we think of a King or Queen, we might think of the British monarchy because of their connection to Australia. If this is the case when we celebrate Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, our image as Jesus Christ as a King, is likely to be somewhat distorted. Christ’s kingship contrasts to an earthly kingship in almost every possible manner. Jesus Christ came to serve and not to be served. Today’s solemnity asks us the question of which kingdom do I want to be a part of?
On Friday (16th November) the Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin ordained Thomas Duncan and Joshua Whitehead to the diaconate. God willing, they will be ordained priests sometime next year. I know both men well, as they were in the year group directly behind me at Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo. In fact, when I was teaching and living at Marist College Ashgrove, I was one of Thomas’ ‘Dorm Masters’, as he was a boarding student from Miles in the Western Downs of Queensland. Thomas belongs to the Diocese of Toowoomba and Joshua to the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Both men are blessed with an array of talents and will be a great asset to their respective dioceses. I invite you to keep both these men in your prayers are they dedicate themselves to a life of humble service in God’s Church.
The streets of Brisbane are alive with the beautiful purple flowers of Jacaranda trees. I always look forward to late October and November each year to see the seemingly invisible Jacarandas literally spring into life! I remember when I was studying at The University of Queensland (located in the midst of some of the best jacarandas) once the jacarandas started to flower, the students knew that the exam period was fast approaching.
As Catholics, we are geared towards seasons as well. In a somewhat similar way to the Jacarandas, we are in the midst of differing seasons. These seasons are climatic (like Spring) but they are also liturgical, and each has a particular focus or emphasis. We are about to finish one liturgical season (Ordinary Time) on the Feast of Christ the King (25 November) and then commence another one, Advent. As Catholics, I would say that we generally mark the season of Lent quite well. Just think of the ‘Little Black Books’ of Lent, Project Compassion, Lenten Groups and fasting, just to name a few.
What do we do for Advent? Or more importantly, what does God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, do in and through us? The Jacarandas have carpeted the streets Advent-purple in the anticipation. What are we doing to prepare for the coming of Christ?
This week’s Gospel is central to our Christian faith. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbour as you love yourself.
I notice that Jesus says that you are to love with all your heart, soul, mind and with all your strength. Loving our neighbour in totality. We cannot say we love God if we do not love our brother or sister. The emphasis is on all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
It is at times very human to be parsimonious. That is, to be frugal to the point of stinginess. Jesus teaches us that to be parsimonious has no place in the life of a Christian. For Christ, it is all or nothing. He was quite strong in telling His disciples that He wants our love to be full on. He spoke about being lukewarm in love and reprimanded His disciples that He would prefer us to be full of love or nothing at all. He reminds us to mean it when we say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. There is no space for “in- between”.
Like a marriage, our love for Jesus and others must be full of fruits. “Yes” or nothing. We must mean what we say by our actions. That is why love of God cannot exist without love of neighbour. Real love is action. It is empty without my hands and feet taking me to love God in my brother and sister.
In this holy month of November, the month of the Holy Souls, our attention is drawn to the real communion we possess with those who have died, in what we call the “Communion of Saints.”
The sacred memory of our loved ones who have gone before us, impels us to pray for them, to pray to them and to remember with gratitude all they have done for us. The pain of grief is sacred. Remember that “Jesus wept” after hearing the news of the death of his friend Lazarus. Our prayers and love go out to all our parishioners who grieve and we hold the sacredness of that love in every Mass, where we acknowledge the death and resurrection of all our loved ones, in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
God love you