Sunday, 3 June 2012

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 3rd 2012, Shaftesbury

1 Kgs 3:11–14
This coming week will mark the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, and our Catholic bishops in England have given us a special prayer at the end of Mass and a special Scripture reading (1 Kgs 3:11–14) for the celebration.
Now, it MIGHT be said that it’s a rather odd thing for us Catholics to be doing. After all, she holds one of the few jobs that are still legally barred from Catholics; she’s the head of an ‘opposing’ church; and, I’m sure there are at least one or two of you here that are republicans - that don’t think we should have a queen at all.
So, why should we, as a Catholic Church, mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee? Why celebrate? I’d offer you two reasons:

First, St. Paul taught us (especially in 1 Timothy 2:1-7) the need to PRAY for EVERYONE, especially for those in authority. Those in the public eye affect all of us, so we all have a duty to pray for them, that their effect might be a good one.
But, in addition to praying FOR those in authority, St Paul also taught us to give thanksgiving. And I imagine that only someone rather mean-spirited would suggest that there’s NOTHING to give thanks for about our Queen. We live in a time when it’s easy to be cynical about public figures, but in the midst of this time the Queen has nonetheless embodied many of the virtues that might be sought for in a queen. As a head of government, she has helped be a part of stability during half a century that has been far from stable in much of the rest of the world. And as an individual, she has been a model of gracefulness, hard-work and duty, in a time when such virtues are rarely even aspired to let alone seen lived.

And that personal example she has shown brings me to my second reason, and the appropriateness of that the first reading our bishops chose. That reading spoke of some of the virtues that a king of old should have aspired to, as shown in the King Solomon who did not ask for wealth or power for himself, but simply wisdom to able to govern his people well. And as a consequence God blessed him with much more, “such riches and glory as no other king ever had” and “a long life” too (1 Kgs 3:13-14).
And our own queen has most certainly been blessed with a long life, and she has sought to exemplify what a modern Christian monarch should be, and it is reasonable to see these as a blessing for her faithfulness.

We know, of course, that the true blessing for anyone’s faithfulness is in the next world, but the blessings we are granted now can be a sign of what is to come. And the comparison between King Solomon and our Queen is given to make that point.

For ourselves, I’d suggest that this is a point worth pondering during the Jubilee celebrations in the days ahead:
Let us recall how King Solomon was blessed for his GOOD stewardship as king;
Let us recall the good example our own Queen has shown us, even amidst the difficulties in her family over the decades;
And let us see these as a sign of God’s goodness, and give thanks to God for them.

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