Recently I read a silly fictional book entitled “The Alchemyst” by Michael Scott. It’s a fanciful book about Nicolas Flamel who is an alchemist from the 1500s who found the answer to immortality in his ancient mythological book. This book has also taught him many other things like the “science of alchemy.”
Nicolas Flamel was a real historical figure who went traveling for a number of years and came back wealthy. Hundreds of years after his death, rumors that his wealth came from alchemy surfaced. At this time alchemy was believed to be a real science. It was mostly concerned with trying to transform matter into a different type of matter. Usually this revolved around simple metals (copper, silver) being transformed into gold.
This area of study was the precursor to chemistry long before we were able to understand the different elements that make up the universe, before we knew that one element cannot be turned into a different one through a simple chemical reaction.
Each atom of any element has a nucleus of protons and neutrons with electrons surrounding it. In order to change the element, the inner nucleus would need to be changed. Current chemistry has led us to understand that this can only occur through nuclear reactions such as neutron capture or radioactive decay.
It is understandable why a fictional version of Nicolas Flamel has been featured in so many books throughout the years. (You might remember him from Harry Potter) His story is most people’s dream! With a simple chemical reaction, you can get untold wealth! You can have as much money as you want without having a difficult job.
What would you do with all of that money? I feel like I would buy a giant house with a pool. I would want lots of land to run around in and for my friends to come over and celebrate life. I would probably donate quite a bit to charity and the Church, but I would definitely build my dream which is a princess’ tower with a spiral staircase. At the top would be a room full of bookcases and comfy places to sit and read! That is my dream. I’ve always wanted to be a princess, and with this amount of money anyone could live like a king! (or princess!)
This Sunday is the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!
That is quite a title, but the Catholic Church knows how to celebrate the King. On this day there is so much royal purple in the decorations and flowers. There is also a lot of gold in the decorations like the flower arrangements. A gold crown is one of the main images displayed on this glorious day.
It is common knowledge that Jesus is understood as king of the universe to all Christians, but I find it interesting what scriptural readings are chosen on this Sunday when we celebrate His kingship.
The entirety of this day’s gospel has this person we exalt as a king shown hanging like a criminal on a cross for us. Sunday’s gospel story is the story of the rulers and soldiers mocking Jesus’ kingship. They laugh at him and they challenge him, but he does not respond. He knows the greater meaning behind this action. This king is thinking of His people before Himself. He knows this sacrifice is what the kingdom needs. That is what sets Him apart.
He is our King and He is giving us an example. This example is that we must think of others before ourselves. Earthly wealth is nothing compared to the eternal glory that comes from being a child of God.
Sunday is truly a day of celebration for Catholics. Our King is greater than death and is thinking of each of us. I hope that you celebrate this day. On Sunday you should have a big meal, enjoying the great things of this world, good food and good people. What a lovely day it could be. But I also hope you will celebrate by following in our King’s footsteps and thinking of others.
This time of year can be very difficult for many people. The weather is getting colder and many cannot afford warm clothes or a warm place to live. I encourage you to follow the example of our King and to help these people. Look in your closet for clothes you don’t wear anymore or could live without; donate them to a local shelter. When the annual holiday food drives begin, give more than you usually do.
If you want to do something more personal, I encourage you to invite someone over for dinner. Do you know someone whose family is not local or a widow/widower? Invite them to spend some time with your family. Share love with those who might not see it as often.
These little works of mercy are wonderful first steps in joining our savior, the king of heaven. When we do this, we are truly entering into our inheritance as the second reading from Sunday says:
“Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”