Feast of Christ the King 2014
RESTORATION OF CHURCH BUILDING & DEDICATION OF NEW ALTAR OF THE CHURCH OF ST. CATHERINE, MEATH STREET.
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
Church of Saint Catherine, Meath Street, 23rd November 2014
“Today, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is interesting to recall that the term “king” appears at the very first moments of the life of Jesus on earth and at the very last moments of his life. The angels announce to the shepherds that a king has been born. On the cross of Jesus is written “Jesus of Nazareth, King”.
Kings are not always popular in today’s democratic world. The kingship of Jesus is, of course, not like an earthly kingship. But that does not mean that Christ’s kingdom is outside this world entirely either. The kingdom is already present in seed within our world, through the redeeming power of Jesus death and resurrection. It is a kingdom which can be anticipated, even in our time, through the way we live: through grace and holiness, when we as believers attempt to shape our lives in terms of that truth and life, that justice, love and peace which are the signs of the kingdom and of God presence.
The Gospel reminds us where we should look to find the signs of Christ’s kingdom and therefore what the signs of the Church are. The Church is not a place where the good gather to feel good or think that they are good. The place where Jesus’ kingdom is realised is out there where people are hungry and thirsty, where people are treated as strangers or where they feel estranged, where people are sick or lonely or in prison, where people are without adequate clothing or are out in the cold in the many senses of that term. These are the places where we encounter Jesus and where we are called to bring Jesus.
The history of Christ’s kingdom will only come to its conclusion when the salvation won for us by Jesus on the Cross will be fully realised and when all creation will fully witness to God’s kingdom.
We know how much there is still to travel before we can say that our world mirrors fully God’s kingdom. We live in a world where there is much inequality, where children do not have the same opportunities not just in different parts of the world, but even in different parts of this city. We live in a world where there is still corruption and violence. People are exploited in many ways and are trafficked and treated as slaves. We live in a world where, alongside great and demonstrative wealth, many have difficulties in making ends meet. We live in a world where we throw away tons of food each week and where we have children coming to school hungry.
The Church is a community where the kingdom of God is preached and lived. The task of Christians is to bring the message of Jesus into the complex situation of the world in which we live, so that the kingdom may be realised in the lives of ourselves and others and in our communities.
This is a parish Church which is at the very heart of the community. When I came here the morning after the disastrous fire, you could experience the shock and the grief in the entire area. Today we come to the final moment in the celebration of the restoration of the Church building, with the inauguration of the new organ and the solemn dedication of the new altar. I congratulate the Augustinian Fathers and everyone who has been associated in any way with this wonderful restoration. Above all I thank the people of this parish of Meath Street and those who have an affection for this Church for their determination in seeing this restoration through.
I have a special liking for Meath Street, even though I was baptised in Francis Street. When my family moved to Ballyfermot in the early 1950’s, there was no bus service into town. When finally it was announced that a bus service would be introduced my mother was furious. Furious not about the bus service but because it was decided to run the service along Saint John’s Road and the Quays and not along Thomas Street from where she would have had access to Meath Street shopping. The result was that my brother and I began a regime of regular physical exercise once or twice a week climbing Bridgefoot Street from the Quays so that my mother, like many inner city Dubliners, could do her shopping in her favoured Thomas Street and Meath Street.
This morning we look towards the future. We celebrate the restoration of the Church and we begin to set priorities for the pastoral mission of the parish in the years to come.
Pope Francis rarely uses the term “lay men and women”. He speaks of everyone in the Church being missionary disciples of Jesus. The mission of the Church is a task given not just to priests and deacons and religious, but to every believing Christian.
What are the priorities that we should be looking at in the coming years in fostering the missionary activity of the Church in this parish and indeed in any forward-looking parish? Let me give some suggestions.
Pope Francis speaks often about “the doors of the Church”. He wants Churches where the doors are open, not just physically. Our Church doors should be open for anyone who wishes to come to pray and to seek support and consolation and to learn the message of Jesus and to encounter the compassion of Jesus.
Church doors should not just be open but should be welcoming. I sometimes feel that we have put invisible security checks on some of our Churches, like at airports, which discourage those who might feel that they do not belong from coming near us.
But above all Pope Francis says that the Church doors should also be open so that we go out from Church bringing the message of Jesus Christ with us into daily life. Daily life means what we have heard in the Gospel reading as I said earlier in this homily: the places where people are hungry and thirsty, where people are treated as strangers or where they feel estranged, where people are without adequate clothing or are out in the cold in the many senses of that term.
I hope then that that this parish will strengthen it outreach to those who are on the margins through poverty, through anxiety, or through exclusion or through doubts and uncertainties.
A second area where we need renewal is in the support of families. Too often in today’s world when we talk about the family we talk about problems and about tensions. Family life today is certainly not as easy as it was perhaps in the past. There are many new challenges. But the Christian family is also a special form of mission, supported by the permanent grace of the sacrament of matrimony.
Living a fully Christian family life is a true witness to the values which constitute the Christ’s kingdom, those values of fidelity and love and caring, and those values of generating and nurturing life. Family also has a vital role in the transmission of the faith. It is in the family that children see a lived faith.
The third area I would indicate is that of reaching out to young people and helping then to understand and embrace the message of Jesus Christ, as a message through which we come to understand who we are and what the propose of our life on earth, and how we are all called be brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ serving others.
As we look towards the future, we realise that our mission which aims at transforming the world in which we live must draw its inspiration from the Eucharist. It is in the celebration of the Eucharist that the kingdom is realised, through the celebration of the life-giving death and resurrection of Jesus. It is in the Eucharist that Jesus prepares us to go out in service so that in our world there may be life and authentic life. Celebrating Eucharist renews our commitment to building a more just and fraternal society, thus anticipating that kingdom of justice, love and peace, for which all humankind longs.
It is in this sense that we will now dedicate the restored altar. The Rite of the consecration of an altar is one of the most complex of the entire liturgy. The Church, with at its centre the altar, is not just an ordinary building. It is not a theatre or concert hall. The Church is a building set apart; a sacred space dedicated alone to the worship of the Lord.
Today we consecrate this altar and we give thanks to God for the graces which this Church has brought to the entire community. I confide this holy place to you, the Christian people of this parish, who have looked after it for generations knowing that you will hand it on to future generations as a place of prayer and worship and the service which springs from those who belong to the Kingdom of Christ.” ENDS