HOMILY FOR CHRIST THE KING – 34TH SUNDAY YEAR A
THEME: RETURNING TO THE KINGSHIP OF CHRIST
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
R1 – Ez 34:11-12,15-17
RESP. PS. – Ps. 23:1-3a, 5-6
R2 – 1Cor 15:20-26, 28
GOSPEL – Matt 25:31-46
On the 20th of January, 2017, at the swearing in of the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump; had his followers wearing red caps with the inscription: “Let’s make America great again,” which has been his catchphrase. I shuddered with puzzle and began to ask myself, “what does it mean to make America great again; since America is already great as the world power; with economic, military, diplomatic, political and developmental sophistication and advancements?”
However, in one of his speeches, Donald Trump made it explicit that, “for us to make America great again, we need to return to the cross (the kingship of Jesus Christ), because their forefathers laid the foundation of America upon the cross.”
Beloved in Christ, today is the solemnity of Christ the King. Today, the Holy Mother Church invites and reminds her children of Jesus’ ideal kingship of service, love, selflessness, self-giving and self-emptying, established upon the throne of the cross; as against the worldly kingship that yields to selfishness, affluence, ostentation and exhibitionism.
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BRIEF HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
This solemnity was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925; in an encyclical letter called “Quas Primas.” The Supreme Pontiff introduced this Solemnity of Christ the King to bring Christ as Ruler, and Christian values back into lives of Christians, into society, and into politics.
The Solemnity came at a point in human history when:
~The world was still trying to recover from the devastating effects of World War I
~Only a few years after the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, which had given birth to the world’s first explicitly atheist totalitarian regime: Soviet communism.
~The totalitarian and dictatorial governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were pressing on the world
~Human societies were abandoning Christian values and trying to build paradise on earth through other means;
So, Pope Pius XI instituted this great solemnity as a reminder to the world that Jesus Christ is still the only Sovereign King; and equally as a way to remind the world that to reject Christ, either in private life or in public life, is to reject our only hope, and to accept him is to accept salvation.
The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel and the Psalmist identifies God as a shepherd king who tends his flock, reminding us of Christ’s claim as the good shepherd whom leaders at various strata are bound to imitate.
The Gospel makes it crystal clear that Christ the King will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment will depend on the help and love that we have rendered to the poor and less privileged.
*RETURNING TO THE KINGSHIP OF CHRIST*
Israel, right from the time of her great patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was a theocratic and chosen generation ruled and governed by God. They had no earthly king but God.
After their liberation and exodus from Egypt, they were only guided by wise and faithful leaders like Moses and Joshua; Brave Judges like Deborah, Sampson and Gideon; Fearless prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and holy priests like Eli and Samuel; who did not wield extraordinary political powers. They did not have a standing army, for instance. If they led armies it was ad hoc, only to overcome a particular situation of aggression. They did not have big palaces.
However, their history took a different turn when the people of Israel wanted to be like other nations who had kings, rejected God’s reign and requested for a king (1 Sam: 8). God warned them through Samuel of the dangers of having a strong monarchy. But the people of Israel insisted saying, “No! We are determined to have a king, so that we can be like the other nations, with our own king to rule us and lead us and fight our battles” (1Sam 8:19-20).
So they were given a king. That was Saul (1Sam 9:2).
~Saul’s reign was disappointing (1Sam 15:11; 31:24). So they were given David.
~The time of David was marked by many conquests and they did see Israel emerging as a powerful nation. David went about coveting people’s wives and daughters into wives. David was followed by Solomon.
~Solomon’s reign, at first was a golden era – alliances were being established, temple was built, history was being written. But this was short-lived. All of a sudden, Solomon yielded to the promptings of the flesh and started marrying and coveting wives with reckless abandon. He ended up from wisdom to idalatory, marrying over 700 wives and 300 concubine. He disappointed both God and his people.
Soon after Solomon there was a division under Rehoboam and Jeroboam.
~ The Northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam and the Southern kingdom of Judea under Rehoboam who wanted to chastise his people with scorpions.
In short, the history of the monarchy for the people of Israel was a big frustration, because the scripture warns:
DO NOT PUT YOUR TRUST
IN PRINCES, IN ANY CHILD
OF ADAM (MERE MORTAL),
WHO HAS NO POWER TO
SAVE. (PS. 146:3).
But the prophets give hope! Yaweh will re-establish the kingdom. He will bring us a king (Jer 23:5-6) who will re-establish the reign of God among us, and he will be the anointed one (Dan 9:3-27, especially v. 26). This was the origin of the figure of the messiah – the anointed one, which, in Greek is rendered as ‘Christos’ (the Christ). So when Jesus claimed to be the anointed of the Lord (Lk 4:18), it was not difficult for the people to associate him to the expected king in the line of David.
SO JESUS CAME TO RESTORE AND RETURN HUMANITY TO THE THEOCRATIC REGIME AS ANNOUNCED IN THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given, and
the government will be on
his shoulders. And he will
be called Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince
(1) *JESUS IS STILL THE KING OF KINGS*
Back in 2016, at the heat of the presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, an internet meme circulated for several weeks containing a picture of Jesus Christ the King, with the inscription, “no matter who is elected President, Jesus Christ is still the King.” Never have we needed to hear that message more than we’ve needed it at this post #ENDSARS era.
That short statement rightly encapsulates everything that is important about today’s solemnity and what we are passing through in the hands of some evil and dubious men at the corridors of power in Nigeria. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords of the Universe (Rev. 19:17).
The Igbos believe that, “eze aka ibe” (no king is greater than the other). But in Christ Jesus, we experience “eze ka ibe ya.”:
~ A supreme King without territorial limitations and confinement.
~ A King whose dynastic terrain is scheduled to last from age to age without expiration of tenure.
Beloved in Christ, we need to ask ourselves, Where are the totalitarian, dictatorial and communist kings and leaders the world has produced, viz: the Caesars who made themselves kings (apotheosis); the heartless Pharaohs, Herods and Nebuchadnezer; the rise and fall of empires like Roman, French, British empires under Emperors Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charlemagne; Brutal dictators like Adolf Hitler, Marshall Tito, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Abacha, Gaddafi; Purported life presidents like Mugabe, etc. They have all reigned and are gone, with their dynasties gone and gone; yet Jesus Christ is still reigning as king of the Universe.
As we get intoxicated with power, most especially, life presidents in various countries in Africa and those who don’t want to retire and surrender power, Jesus is still the King of the universe
As we admire and fight dirty to become the president of CWO, CMO, CYON, MARY LEAGUE, CCRN, CBIU, ETC., Jesus is still the King of kings
As we kill, malign and use diabolical means inorder to consolidate political offices, posts and leadership, Jesus is still the reigning King of kings.
*(2) WHO REIGNS OVER YOUR LIFE?*
I once asked a young guy whose response startled me, “O boy how u dey?” He responded, “Oluwa ka na agba first n’me ndu. Fr, Oluwa noonoo” (God is still the first in my life).
This response gives rise to another significant reflection for today’s solemnity:
▪︎Where is the place of Christ in your life? Has the King of the Universe been relegated to the background in your life?
▪︎Is Christ reigning in your life, family, situation, profession, career, vocation, business, academic life? etc.
▪︎Is there peace in your family? He reigns only in families where there is peace, because He is the Prince of Peace.
▪︎Have you sold your life to the devil in pursuit of power and earthly riches?
▪︎Is your life being controlled and governed by your cell phone that at the dawn of the day, instead of talking to the King of kings, you first pay attention to the phone?
▪︎Is your life ruled by passion, pleasure, fashion and other worldly fantasies?
▪︎Are you ready to do “ANYTHING” to get to the climax or achieve your dreams?
It is time, like Donald Trump to return to the foot of the cross, because it is upon the throne of the cross that Jesus declared “It is finished” over all your ugly situations and experiences (Jn. 19:30).
The scripture says, “only Him can do what no man can do and only by His name and authority shall we emerge victorious.” (Acts 4:10, 12; Jn. 8:36; Rev. 12:10-11).
(3) *ADOPT THE SERVANT-LEADERSHIP MODEL OF JESUS CHRIST*
The kingship of Jesus is one that is paradoxically filled with contradictions as against the leadershilp standards of the world. He became a humble and humane servant leader who gave and spent himself in entirety as a selfless shepherd for the good of his flock. In totality, he emptied himself (kenosis) for us:
~Hanging on the Cross that we may have access to the throne of dominion (Gen. 1:28).
~He wore the crown of thorns that we may wear the crown of victory and jubilation
~He was striped of his tunic so that we can be luxuriously clothed.
~He was nailed to the cross inoder to free the world from the chains of sin
~He was born poor, so as to enrich us
~His networth was as low as 30 pieces of silver yet he restored us to an inestimable worth in the presence of God.
~He was wounded to heal our wounds (1Pet. 2:24)
~From his pierced side flowed the Church, our spring and source of spiritual renewal.
~Finally, He died and rose from the dead inorder to give us abundant life.
Any leader in the church, community and government that does not first have the interest of his flock at heart (altruism) or who is not ready to give himself up for the sheep, following these models of Jesus’ servant-leadership is not “onye nche aturu, but ori aturu” (Not a shepherd but predators and ravenous wolf). There are predators everywhere who prey on their flock. What a sad and degenerating stance.
Finally, a story was told about a high ranked communist dictator, who was schooling and tutoring young communist diplomats on the strategy of treating the masses with mafia mentality. He crowned the lesson session with an experiment. He brought a hen that had been starved for three days; right on the brink of dying, in a freezing and cold winter, and started peeling off the feathers. The hen ceaselessly cried for help, yet the victimizer never stopped until he had all the feathers removed. The hen was at this spot suffering from starvation, cold and pains with bleeding. It was at this point that he brought food for the dying hen and started dropping the food sparingly, one after the other as he moved and the hen was following him about.
He then told them, “can you see how this hen is suffering, despite all the maltreatments, yet following me about because I have the food? This is how you treat the people under you. No matter what you do to them, aid them with small food, palliatives or incentives during elections, they will still follow you about chanting, “na you we go follow” (Obu ya ka anyi ga eso, ma o na-eje eje ma o na-ala ala, obu ya ka anyi ga eso). Let’s turn now, trusting and following Jesus, the King of the universe, who alone can totally emancipate us (Jn. 8:36).
MAY CHRIST THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE REIGN IN YOUR LIFE, SITUATIONS, CHALLENGES AND FAMILIES; AND LIKE CHRIST JESUS, MAY YOU EQUALLY REIGN WITH CHRIST WITHIN THE LIMITS OF YOUR EXISTENCE. AMEN.
I SINCERELY THANK ALL THOSE WHO ACCOMPANIED AND FOLLOWED US IN COMPLETING THE LITURGICAL CYCLE B THROUGH THIS PLATFORM. ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO MAKE YOUR INPUTS FOR THE GROWTH OF THE GOSPEL. NEVER RESIST PRESSING THE “SHARE BUTTON” WHENEVER YOU ARE TOUCHED BY THIS REFLECTION. THE TARGET IS “MISSIO AD GENTES.”
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
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