My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Can you remember the year when the Queen ascended to the throne? It was 1952, though she was crowned in 1953. The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King we hold today was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Does it mean that this year we are having the ninetieth anniversary of Jesus’ as King? Not at all. When Jesus was questioned by Pilate he answered: “I am the King” but even that moment wasn’t the beginning of his reign. When the wise men, following the star, came to Jerusalem they asked the Herod and his court: “Where is the new born King of Jews?” The person whom the Wise Men so desperately wanted to see stood before the Pilate who blinded by the magnificence of his Cesar from Rome couldn’t recognize in the humble man brought to him for a trial the true and everlasting King. In the conversation with Pilate Our Blessed Lord stated: “If my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent me being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.” It is the kingdom where the King gives his life for his people. This great solemnity we have today also shows us that Jesus Kingdom grows not by conversions driven by some useful approaches when one could benefit socially, politically or financially from following Christ.
At the beginning I mentioned the situation in the Royal France. Into that society, highly Catholic but also superficially Catholic, St Eugene de Mazenod was born. Then he was to live through times as exciting as ours here in Australia. The French people were changing their political systems, from monarchy to Republic, then from Republic to monarchy and again from monarchy to republic, nearly as often as our Prime Ministers are changed. However the Founder of the Oblates discovered that God’s Kingdom cannot be forced upon people or to have people lured to it.
Let me ask you another question? How many of you were born outside Australia? Another question? How many of you come to Australia because you came to love Queen Elisabeth and wanted to live under her authority?
St Eugene was very clear when he invited his first collaborators to join him. He knew that only if the people can discover the truth about Jesus they can surrender their lives to him.
When I study the life and writing of St Eugene I link his vision to what the Bible speaks about prophets. The Jews, for whom prophets were so crucial for their religion, had actually three different words to say that someone was a prophet. Two of them would refer to people who had some knowledge given them by God to explain to others the meaning of contemporary happenings. However the third word, that the one I love, means boiling water. A prophet would be descried as boiling water. When I came across this for the first time I thought of the times when we had old-fashioned kettles to boil water for tea. They wouldn’t stop automatically but the lid would be jumping up and down. It looked as if the water was trying to jump out of the kettle. That’s how Eugene understood evangelization, not simply converting others but firstly giving to others faith and God’s love you cannot contain within yourself.
My Dear friends! We are so desperate to have new missionaries but let’s think, hope and pray big. Let us pray for new candidates for the priesthood and religious life who are so committed and passionate about Jesus that they are like boiling water.
Maybe next time you boil you boring automatic kettle you can say a prayer for new vocations.