Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King Year B
Theme: The Universal Reign of Peace and Love from the Clouds
By: Fr. Luke Ijezie
1. Today, the Church celebrates the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar. It is a day the Universal Church celebrates Jesus Christ specially as the King of the Universe. In Nigeria, the celebration is particularly marked with a joyful procession with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, otherwise called, the Corpus Christi. The celebration reminds us that we have a powerful heavenly guide who leads us despite all our wayward ways.
The readings of this Sunday project an interesting image of this Universal King. The apocalyptic book of Daniel presents him as one coming on the clouds of heaven. The idea of coming on the clouds can be looked at from two perspectives.
1. In the first place, being in the clouds connotes the idea of being removed from reality or ordinary life. In normal parlance, when one is said to remain in the clouds, he or she is understood as operating on a high ideal more or less alien to the ordinary realm or impracticable. However, the idea of Jesus coming on the clouds needs not connote the negative idea of being removed from reality, but still related to that, it also underlines the fact that his kingdom is not of this world, as the Gospel of today attests. The kingship of Jesus is not the type practised by human beings, which often ends up dividing people and excluding many. Jesus attracts us to higher ideals of love and unanimity. His kingdom transcends the borders of flesh and blood. It transcends the barriers of clan, tribe, ethnic group, nation, culture, religion, race and language. He appeals to higher values of justice, for all, love for all and acceptance of all. Yes, in a way, it is a kingdom that remains in the clouds but at the same time it is a unifier of all hearts.
2. The second way of understanding the idea of Jesus coming on the clouds is to link it to the biblical understanding of the clouds. Generally, the biblical texts present the clouds as the carriers of the divine presence. In that sense they symbolise the glory of God. This is very evident in Exodus and other texts. Usually, what appears in the clouds carries with it the glory of God. The reading from the book of Daniel sees the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Then, the text goes on: “On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship.” So, here, Daniel understands the coming on the clouds as coming with the divine glory and sovereignty which will last forever.
The second reading from the book of Revelation (1:5-8) picks up the same idea of coming on the clouds. The author identifies the one coming on the clouds as Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He is the Alpha and the Omega, and all nations will bow down before him.
The Gospel text from Luke 23:35-43 goes a step further to explain the character of this new and everlasting kingdom. Jesus replies Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. This, of course, does not mean that it does not apply to this world, rather, it means that it exists on the spiritual realm of life. Jesus says he came into this world to establish this spiritual kingdom, which is the reign of God in all hearts. But he makes it clesr: “all who are on the side of the truth listen to my voice.” Yes, only the truth can set us free from the bondages imposed by worldly kingdoms. Truth alone can initiate us as free citizens into the eternal kingdom of Christ.
As we celebrate Christ the Universal King, let us remember that his reign is one of love and unity without discrimination. Our society and our hearts are yet too far away from the requirements of this Universal Reign. Our hearts stink with mutual hatred, and we have allowed many barriers to keep us apart. Christ’s reign of truth, justice, unity and love remains the only hope for a peaceful and happy world.
We keep praying that the reign of God made present in Jesus may continue to find a home in our lives as individuals and as society! May God bless us as we celebrate!
Fr. Luke Ijezie