HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMINITY OF CHRIST THE KING
HOMILY Theme: THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
* Ez 34 : 11 – 17, 1Cor 15 : 20 – 28, Matt 25 : 31 – 46.
As the Church’s liturgical year comes to an end today, the readings afirm the lordship of Christ as our Shepherd, Redeemer, King and finally our Judge. The readings enthrone this lordship not necessarily in the verbal niceties or jirations that go with the Christ the King ceremony but in the Lordship of Christ in our lives of charity which willy nilly, will be the only parameters for judgment on the last day.
B. THE END TIME TRAGEDY IN 3 DIMENSIONS
1. PAST : From the point of view of the past, the end time presents us, according to the 1st reading of today with the failure of the designated shepherds of the people who lost interest in feeding the flock and bandaging the wounded and were more interested in milking from the healthy ones. The divine judgment is : ‘I myself will search for my sheep.. I will seek the lost and bring back the strayed’. This is clearly emblematic of Pope Francis’ papacy with the level of interest he has shown in moving the Church’s attention back to the lost sheep. He sees the Church not as a toll gate for collection of levies and dues from the healthy but more as a field hospital for the bandaging of the wounded and the sick (cf Evangelium Gaudium, no 49, pg 41). It is left for other Church leaders to key into this perspective.
2. PRESENT : From the point of view of the present, the end time presents us with the reality of the kingship of Christ even in our midst today. The Bible says that ‘he has delivered from the dominion of darkness and transfered us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have freedom and the forgiveness of our sins’, Col 1 : 13. The 2nd reading of today says that Christ as King delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. This signals the end of the oppression of the children of God by the agents of Satan. This Chapter ends by saying that the last enemy to be destroyed is death : After this perishable nature has put on imperishability, then shall come the fulfilment of the words of scripture ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin comes from the law. But thanks be to God who giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’.
3. FUTURE : From the point of view of the future, the gospel presents the tragedy of the individual and universal judgment and the imminent separation of the sheep from the goats when Christ comes as our judge /chief examiner. There will be 2 surprises : (1) Those who did not do good works will be condemned much more than those who did bad. The sin of omission will be more consequential than the sin of commission, because people’s charity will cover a multitude of their sins, 1 Pet 4 : 8, Lk 16 : 19 – 31. (2) Those who directed their good works to the wrong channels may be condemned. The right target of our good works should be to ‘one of the least of these brothers of mine’, Matt 25 : 45. Friendly love is not exactly charity. The bottom line is love of your enemies and neighbour (any human being around you who is in need).
* These events will come as tragedy only to those who do not know Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
C. CHRIST’S KINGSHIP AND LORDSHIP : CONTEXUALIZATION
It is not the noise we make today that make Christ our personal Lord and Saviour but our inner disposition to listen to his words and respond to them through our good deeds. So many of our Youths no longer come to Church except today just because of the Corpus Christi procession ceremony that resembles their ‘Oriokpa /Akatakpa masquerade jirations day’. They will try to block roads and display their youthful rascality on a day like this.
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The gospel tells us exactly how we are expected to respond to Christ’s lordship by serving our neighbours in need. In the Beatitudes, we are shown what we are expected to be (poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart, etc), but in the last judgment, we are shown what we are expected to have done. According to Fr Emma Onuh of blessed memory, ‘When I am hungry and have no food, it is a physical problem but when another person is hungry and I have food, it is a moral problem’. Those who are condemned are people who did not recognize Jesus in the poor around them.
We must surrender other vestiges of loyalty contrary to the lordship of Christ ; our visit of pagan shrines, our romance with pagan masquerade ceremonies, our attitude of favoritism, bribery and corruption, our stinginess towards Church offerings, charity offerings, etc. God alone must be worshipped on bended knees (confer ‘Tantum ergo’ – Isi ala n’ikpere ala k’anyi na – etiri sacrament ukwu by St Thomas Aquinas ). We must try to maintain our sobriety even as we dance before him today. We must avoid all forms of cultism, witchcraft, idolatry and divination, Deut 29 : 29. His kingship is not of this world. His Word says : ‘Seek you first the kingdom of God and its righteousness…’, Matt 6 : 33.
He is the king of our hearts. He must be first of all allowed to affect our behavior, our relationships, our marriage style, our wedding and funeral ceremonies, our political lives and our spiritual lives. Let us reaffirm our faith today in his lordship as our Shepherd, King and Judge : ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose… near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit…’, Ps 23.
Happy Sunday dear friends and Happy end of the Church’s liturgical year!
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