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Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King (B)


"It is you who say I am a king."


The Word This Week


Every time we complete the cycle of the liturgical year, there is a seamless blending into the new year: so, just as this week we hear of the King who is to come, next week, we begin a New Year and the Season of Advent by more medita­tion on the end of time, and the One who is to come again, as he once came among us. This feast affirms that Christ is King, that he is Judge, that he is Ruler of the kings of the earth. By his own words we know that this is true, as he stands before Pilate and says, “Yes, I am a king.” But his kingship is different: it is not of the same kind as earthly kings, whose empires fade and pass away. His kingship is eternal, and holy until the end of time. Through his love for us, we share in this sovereignty - this holiness - as priests and kings who “serve his God and Father”. We end our year in simple, awe‑filled praise of the One who is, who was, and who is to come ‑ the Almighty. Alleluia! Amen!


Notes for Readers


First Reading: Daniel 7:13

Imagine you are a composer, setting this reading to music: the first line, “I gazed into the visions of the night…” is so full of images and ideas that it is easy for anyone to imagine a ‘musical mood’ for it. This is a good way to ‘get into the reading’, because mood and tone can be conveyed by the way you read just as much as through music. It will have to begin in stillness, and quietly - though to do this you will have to pause (perhaps for quite a long time) to allow an utter silence to descend in Church. The reading then builds up in a huge crescendo ‑ as the imagery and language grows more and more glorious and tri­umphant: from an almost silent beginning, it should rise to a solemn and confident proclamation of the empire that will never be destroyed. Enjoy the proclamation of this simple but powerful piece of Scripture.


Second Reading: Apocalypse 1:5-8

Like the First Reading, this is about images and pictures, and full of music and poetry. It is more ‘informative’ than the reading from Daniel, and so for a lot of it your tone will be more balanced and factual. It’s only towards the end that a sort of ex­alted rapture overtakes Saint John ‑ from the first “Amen” onwards this becomes more like a hymn, ending on the wonderful descrip­tion of the Lord as “the one who is, who was and who is to come.” Make sure you read the words “He loves us...” with appropriate warmth and emphasis. Be careful with the two “Amen”s. “Amen” means “Yes. It is so. It is the truth.” Allow this simple word ‑ just two syllables ‑ to be emphatic. The same goes for the re­markable little expression “This is the truth” (which could be one of those moments when, if you are able, you look at the con­gregation to affirm your own belief that this is the truth.)



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