During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. In his homily he reminds us of the difference between worldly power and the “authority of the Shepherd,” which is love that unites us all. We are pleased to provide this transcript:
“My dear friends, it was the last day of our family trip to London, and my mother sister insisted that we go to this final destination. And I remember as we arrived, we went down these long steps, very dark and damp, very narrow because we were going deeper and deeper into the Tower of London to see the crown jewels of the kings and queens of England. And I must confess, I was unimpressed going down. But when you actually see them, they are quite astonishing. Some of the largest diamonds in all the world sit in the crown that now will be on the head of Charles II.
As we were coming up the steps, it dawned on me that for all their beauty and for all, they represent authority and power in its time, absolute authority in terms of this world. It dawned on me that on those very steps, there were those who walked having no concern for the authority. Those jewels represented were not impressed in the least because they were walking in allegiance to a different king. The English Martyrs, they gave their lives being held in that tower because they believed that the only king that matters has a throne of wood and jewels made of nails. And they honored him to the end.
Today, you and I gather to celebrate Jesus Christ, king of the universe. We need to be sure we understand what it is we are celebrating in his kingship for in this world, my dear friends, kingship authority and power usually measures itself in a very divisive way, meaning that wealth is accumulated in the hands of those who have authority to the detriment of those who do not. Oftentimes that authority is exercised, not in a way that brings unity, but actually can divide us. And when it is held in the hands of those who have no answer to anyone else, it can be ruthless, oppressive. We see that in our own world.
And while it is necessary for the world to have structures of authority, those structures need to remember that one day, whether they like it or not, they will kneel to the only king where the authority of our shepherd is one of love. It’s not divisive, it’s uniting because he offered his life from his throne. For all of us saints and sinners alike, he did not come to exercise that power in an exclusive way, but in an inclusive way because he asks us, you and me, to love each other as he loved us. And he promises us, not riches, not diamonds, not crowns, not comfort, but he promises us a place in paradise as he gave to the good thief. In the last moments of his life, he asks us to be His presence in the world for his kingship would be invisible without you and me as those who walk in his footsteps.
So I ask you, to whom do you and I pledge our allegiance to which king do we bow and kneel and offer our loyalty, our duty, our obligation, our life? And if you and I will say to ourselves, well, Bishop, of course I give my allegiance to Jesus or else I would not be here. That may be true, but allow me to ask you a second question as I ask myself. If we truly have our allegiance to the king of love, do our lives show that allegiance clearly or do they not? And at times, I dare to say that is true for all of us in the season that will be coming next Sunday.
As we begin the holy season of Advent, it is time for us to reflect, to seek forgiveness, to repent, so that on Christmas morning when the infant is born, in the poverty of Bethlehem, we will be able to look upon him. And with hearts, minds, and wills, renew our pledge of allegiance to the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus the Christ.”
All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.