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22 November 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 01-12-2015

Handel composed an oratorio about the events of Christmas and Easter. He called it: The Messiah. Messiah means ‘the anointed one’. Since among the Jews the simple rite by which a man was made king was anointing with oil he was messiah. More broadly messiah stands for liberator. Jews of our Lord’s time were looking for a liberator who would establish their independence. They believed he would be a descendant of David, their greatest king. Our Lord had constantly to be dodging their expectations. By his parables he tried to get across the idea of a kingdom that was not earthly but spiritual.

He was not successful. The charge against him attached to the cross was ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’. He had been accused of being a revolutionary, challenging Caesar. He accepts the title messiah or king when being quizzed by Pilate but insists that he is operating in another world to that of marching armies. It is on the cross, in his death, at the moment of seeming failure, that he becomes our liberator, that he makes the world free to attain his kingdom.

This feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 togive people confidence to assert their faith when society was drifting further and further in the direction of a life-style without any reference to God. This may have been one of the effects of the Great War. We are remembering the centenary of battles that entailed a terrible loss of life. The idealism with which men went to war was replaced by a deep cynicism and bitterness.  God was discredited.  We have since been through a Second World WarIt seems to happen that relief from hardship and suffering induces people to take their pleasure where and when they can without looking for a deeper meaning in life. The 21st century shows an even stronger drift away from faith. In a recent survey 67% of people interviewed said that Christ was irrelevant to their Christmas and a third of childrenhad no answer to the question ‘Whose birthday was on Christmas Day? ‘.  It would seem that the Christmas treewith its gaudies has driven out the crib. So we have a bigger challenge than in the 1920s. Christmas - Christ Mass - without Christ is meaningless. So how do we assert his relevance?There’s one simple way to do it.  We send only religious Christmas cards - especially to those people who would never send a religious one themselves.

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