18 June, 2016

Homily for the Mass of Thanksgiving for HM The Queen 90th Birthday - Praying for those in authority

1 Samuel 16 1-13
1 Timothy 2:1-6
Matthew 20:25-28
‘Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions’ (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Coronation Ampulla and Spoon for anointing the Monarch
This instruction to pray for all in position of authority is something that may easily take for granted. In this parish church, as in many other churches across the land, we pray for the Sovereign most of the times we gather for Mass. But for the early Church, praying for those ‘in high positions’ would have meant praying for people who often looked upon Christianity with suspicion or actively persecuted its members. Therefore, Paul’s instruction can be interpreted as a reminder to every Christian about fighting the temptation to be selfish in our prayers, reserving intercessions and thanksgivings only for likeminded people, only for those who were part of the club, as it were.

But, although many centuries have passed since Paul wrote these words, we may still experience the same temptation to pray only for people in genuine physical need, whom we personally know, or whom we arbitrarily deem worthy of our intercession. In other words, there is a temptation of being selective, or even judgmental, in our approach to praying for others. Some may say “Why should we pray for the Queen?” or “Why should we give thanks to God for her?” Specifically, in this case, even though the Queen may be a great example of Christian faithfulness, a few people may object that we should not pray for her, or indeed her family, because of their privileged background or what have you.

As it is, praying for those in authority in the way that Paul recommends requires us to exercise a certain degree of humility – a virtue that has nothing to do with self-abasement, but a habit that simply allows us to see ourselves as part of a wider society, without the illusion of being the sole masters of the universe. Through humility we realise that in society, in a community of individuals with varied vocations, different people are called to do different things so that the collective as a whole may prosper and achieve the highest grade of common good. It is because of this sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves, part of a wider society, that we pray especially today, for the Queen – and also for the royal family and for our elected political leaders; so that assisted by our intercessions she may endeavour to pursue wisdom and justice for this nation, to the ultimate end that all may be saved and prosper. 

Paul says, 
‘I urge that …thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions’. 
So, let us give thanks in this Mass for the Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, for the good work that God has begun in her. Let us give thanks for her example of faith in our uncertain times, for her commitment to duty and vocation, and for her willingness to serve under God for the wellbeing and stability of many nations.
God, save the Queen.

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