• On Sunday 12th June 2016, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna attended a Mass of Thanksgiving and delivered a homily on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth II 90th birthday. The Mass was held at the Pro-Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Paul, in Valletta.

    Homily by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna 

    “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.
    All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.
    To do righteousness and justice
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice”. (Proverbs 21, 1-3)
    These words from the Book of Proverbs mention a King, but they are well suited for every Sovereign, for every Leader.  As we celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday, we turn to God, the Creator of all beings, with gratitude for the steadfast example of a Monarch whose heart is like “a stream of water in the hand of the Lord”: a stream of water that quenches the thirst for warmth, for constancy, for wisdom, the thirst for security, guidance, leadership and care.
    As Jesus says in the Gospel of John:
    ”those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4,14).
    Through Baptism, 90 years ago, the young Elizabeth was given to drink the water that Jesus gives. Today we thank the Lord that in Her Majesty the water of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives his disciples has turned into a spring of water that lovingly calls the peoples of the Commonwealth to a life of fraternity and compassion that is open to a destiny beyond this world, a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.
    Her Majesty has led her family, her subjects, all the peoples of the Commonwealth nations to take to heart the words of Scripture proclaimed at the First Reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy:  “[Šema Israel] Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might”. The Queen is a living example of the fulfilment of the promise: “keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long”.
    The wise and sobering words of Psalm 90 come to mind:
    Psalm 90 – God’s Eternity and Human Frailty. A Prayer of Moses, the man of God
    Lord, you have been our dwelling-place
    in all generations.
    Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
    For a thousand years in your sight
    are like yesterday when it is past,
    or like a watch in the night.
    You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning;
    in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
    So teach us to count our days
    that we may gain a wise heart.
    Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
    Let your work be manifest to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
    Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and prosper for us the work of our hands—
    O prosper the work of our hands!
  • Indeed, paraphrasing a line from Shakespeare’s Henry V (Act I, Scene II, 241) and looking back with gracious humility at her long reign which has entered its 65th year, Her Majesty may rightly say: “I am no tyrant but a Christian [Queen]”.
    And as a Christian Queen, anointed at her coronation, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has lived out her vocation as a loving and caring sovereign servant to her nation, to the Commonwealth, to the community of nations. The words of Jesus that we heard at the Gospel today ring so true: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10, 42-45).
    Let us all thank the Lord today for the gift of Her Majesty who has taken to heart the Solemn Oath at her anointment as Queen, that solemn commitment to serve before God. As Shakespeare has it: “Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm off from an anointed [Queen]” (Richard II, Act III, Scene II, 54-55). And that balm is the balm of service: loyal and therefore truly royal!
    Today as we look to Her Majesty with admiration for her fidelity to her calling and with gratitude for her long life we come to a deeper understanding of the words of the Book of Proverbs:
    Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king, and his throne is upheld by righteousness. (Proverbs 20, 28)
    Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, that we heard today at the Second Reading, is a fitting reminder of the impact Her Majesty the Queen has had and will continue to have on us and on the millions who admire her grace in service and her devotion to duty: “ Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you”.
    ✠ Charles J. Scicluna
    Archbishop of Malta
    Photos: Curia Communications Office, Annie Leboviz