Sunday thoughts: November 2019

By Monsignor John Devine

I’m a baby boomer. I’ve lived through a long period of stability. Wars have taken place on distant shores but those living in western Europe and the United States have enjoyed relatively untroubled lives for half a century.

The UN and NATO (and dare I say the European Union?) have ensured peaceful and seamless interaction between western nations. In the UK, free elections, Parliament, the judiciary, the Police service, the NHS etc have been taken for granted. Although these institutions have disguised inequalities and injustices for some, the UK has been considered to be a comfortable place to live, work, raise a family, and to live with dignity until death. Most of us have unquestioningly assumed that these benign structures would survive until the end of time.

So what’s changed? Terrorism and extremism obviously rock our sense of security but what really threatens our way of life is when trusted institutions are challenged by the establishment itself. Parliament and the judiciary are ridiculed as ‘enemies of the people’. The BBC, once the touchstone of reliability, is dismissed as biased. We rely instead on our iPhones and a social media that is manipulated by hidden and malevolent interest groups.

At the end of November we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Many of us had assumed that the ‘post-war consensus’ was the next best thing to the Kingdom of Heaven. We’ve had to grow up quickly. The world of idolatrous systems and institutions is always passing away. It’s been suggested that when we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’ we must also be able to say ‘my kingdoms go’. Our worldly kingdoms rise and fall. We need to be careful what we pray for. The Kingdom of the Servant King is where true freedom and joy is to be found.