I never expected to hear St. Vincent dePaul speaking at the coronation of King Charles III! My ears perked up at the proclamation of what many refer to as the Vincentian Gospel (Luke 4:16). Vincentians the world over celebrate St Vincent’s feast with this Gospel. Jesus proclaims his mission in terms embracing the Old Testament, and echoes in our hearts today.
Archbishop Justin Welby (CM?) captured Vincent’s spirit. (You will quickly realize why I added “CM?” after this name.) He challenged all, from King Charles to all in attendance and, by extension, all who read it to live what we call the Vincentian vision.
Judge for yourself!
Archbishop Justin Welby begins
We are here to crown a King, and we crown a King to serve.
What is given today is for the gain of all. For Jesus Christ announced a Kingdom in which the poor and oppressed are freed from chains of injustice. The blind see. The bruised and broken-hearted are healed.
That Kingdom sets the aims of all righteous government, all authority. And the Kingdom also sets the means of all government and authority. Jesus doesn’t grasp power or hold onto status.
The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, was anointed not to be served, but to serve. He creates the unchangeable law that with the privilege of power comes the duty to serve.
Service is love in action. We see active love in our care for the most vulnerable, the way we nurture and encourage the young, in the conservation of the natural world. We have seen those priorities in the life of duty lived by our King.
The Archbishop celebrates all who serve
Today we have the honor of being in this Abbey with so many who show such love; you work with charities and organizations, you build community, you serve the nation in Armed Forces, in emergency services, and so many other ways. Next door are 400 extraordinary young people in St Margaret’s, whose lives speak of service. Around the world in the Realms and Commonwealth, are so many more. You live your lives for the sake of others.
The unity you show, the example you give, is what binds us together and offers societies that are strong, joyful, happy and glorious. They bear heavy weights for us.
He continues with the necessity of the Holy Spirit
The weight of the task given you today, Your Majesties, is only bearable by the Spirit of God, who gives us the strength to give our lives to others. With the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the King is given freely what no ruler can ever attain through will, or politics, or war, or tyranny: the Holy Spirit draws us to love in action.
This is promised by Jesus, who put aside all privilege because, as the first reading tells us, God will give all things for our sake, even His life.
His throne was a Cross. His crown was made of thorns. His regalia were the wounds that pierced his body.
The Archbishop concludes
Each of us is called by God to serve. Whatever that looks like in our own lives, each of us can choose God’s way today.
We can say to the King of Kings, God Himself, as does the King here today, ‘give grace that in thy service I may find perfect freedom’.
In that prayer, there is promise beyond measure, joy beyond dreams, and hope that endures. By that prayer, for every King, every ruler, and, yes, for all of us, we are opened to the transforming love of God.
A personal observation
I don’t know of many followers of Vincent de Paul who could have said it better.
Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk