The Feast of Christ the King
Sunday, 22 November 2015
St. Macartan’s Cathedral, 7.00pm
My dear friends,
Sean arrived six weeks early, a tiny little gift from God, whose heart and respiration rates would require extra monitoring. So Mum and Dad settled down for an extended hospital stay. Ten days after his birth, something was wrong. Sean’s heart was not regulating the flow of blood properly. Surgery was required – and immediately. The next immediate slot was the following day. The parents absorbed the news and took turns holding vigil that night next to their infant son. Mom took the first shift. Dad went to the family waiting area, took two bites of a muffin and proceeded to stare blankly at it for what seemed like an eternity.
He remembered becoming aware of a couple sitting nearby. They were parents as well and their little boy was across the hall from Sean. He could not muster a smile, never mind the usual pleasantries. He did not know it at the time but those parents, along with the other families in the cardiac intensive unit would teach him more about parenting than any book possibly could. It was here that he found the patience and care of parents under incredible stress. It was here that he learned first-hand about the gift of new life and just how fragile it can be. It was here that he witnessed a kind of love that was altogether new to him.
Later that day a stuffed animal arrived courtesy of the parents he met in the waiting area that welcomed them into the world of ‘heart mums and dads’. He became a silent admirer of this couple, whose child had undergone multiple surgeries. They were just across the hall and though he tried to respect their privacy, his gaze kept wandering in their direction, peeking between the curtains to see how experienced parents handled this kind of stress. He could see they had it together. They knew the purpose of each IV line and tube; they asked the doctors spot on questions.
Sean’s surgery was a success. Unfortunately, his ‘one and done’ operation and excellent prognosis were not the norm. As they prepared to transfer Sean out of the intensive care unit, a feeling of guilt crept into his parents’ sense of relief. Their son was doing better but so many children were still struggling. In his final conversation with the couple across the hall Sean’s father felt they could sense his mixed feelings. Yet they remained very positive and happy for Sean’s parents. ‘Rejoice in your son’ they said, ‘and pray for ours’. In a place in which each child had a wounded heart, Sean’s Mum and Dad were overwhelmed by the love and generosity of strangers, of ‘heart mums and dads’ who modelled the most important of lessons to two new parents.
This is the kingdom of Christ in our midst, ‘‘heart mums and dads’ who console and teach, who rejoice and grieve with each other united by that unconditional and complete love of parent for child. The kingdom of Jesus is not always found in the world’s centres of power but within human hearts. It is built not by deals among the brokers of that power but by the hands of faithful and loving souls. Christ reigns neither in influence of a worldly kind nor in wealth. He reigns in compassion, humility and justice. “Mine is not a kingdom of this world”, he said. We who have been baptised into the life, death and resurrection of Christ are called to build and maintain that kingdom in our own time and place. “I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth : and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice”, said the Lord. The Kingship of Jesus is realised when we embrace a vision of humankind as a family made in the image of God, a vision of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ; a vision of the world centred in the hope and compassion taught by Christ, the King of “hearts”.
+Liam S. MacDaid
22 November 2015