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WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST. Reflection for the 34th Sun, Ord. Time, Yr. A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sat, 25 Nov 2017

‘Christ the King’ was proclaimed as a solemn festival of the universal Church in 1925 by Pope Pius X1. The Church was also responding to the ‘signs of the times’ in an age when the nations grappled with the carnages of World War 1; and humanity in its present and future was pushed to the precipice with the rise of totalitarian regimes in the years leading up to World War 11.

This great Christian festival announces the reign of God in Christ. It appeals to all hearts to return to Jesus Christ, embrace the values of peace, reconciliation and forgiveness to be ready for his eschatological return as sovereign and judge. Christ is king with majesty enrobed. His throne is grace, justice with righteousness. 

The solemnity of Christ the king therefore, is not a copy after the monarchies or kingdoms of the medieval ages. The truths that we know about ‘Christ the King’ rightly belong to a different realm. While the revelation of Christ as king had been included in the angel’s visit to Mary (Lk 1:33), the sign of the “Emmanuel” (‘with us is God’ - Is 7:14); the birth of the ‘Son given us’, whose ‘reign is eternal’ (Is 9:6) were real hopes historically lived by the people of God, as they awaited their Messiah.

Ezekiel’s oracle of the ‘Good Shepherd’ as proclaimed to us today, deepens the special messianic foundations of Christ the king. The psalm of today rings out with confidence on the good shepherd whose guidance ‘restores my soul’ and ‘revives my drooping spirit’. These readings draw sharp contrasts between the image of God as the good shepherd, and the bad rulers of the people who prove to be no shepherds at all due to their lack of love and care for their people. Ultimately, God in Christ as the shepherd-King, will take over and prevail in the affairs of his misgoverned people.

In his vision of the Risen Christ, St Paul adds a new momentum to the kingship of Christ, by naming him as the ‘first fruits’ of God’s harvest.  The Jews, by presenting the sacrifice of their ‘first fruits’ to God, symbolically consecrated the entire harvest to Him.  So also, the Risen Christ, Lord of history and king of the universe through his conquest of sin, evil and death, will bring back all of creation thus redeemed, to his kingdom of love before God, the Father: Dinwenu anyi bu Eze n’ezie!

In all of this, today’s Gospel proclamation can easily fit as a dress rehearsal of the final judgment before Christ the king. True, we profess faith, and pay our worship to Christ the king. But the basis for the last judgment certainly does not end with our profession of faith, our beautiful rituals, or even the prayers. Instead, it is our attitude to those Christ identifies as ‘these little ones’ (Mt 25:40, 45).

As believers the message of Christ the king exhorts us never to forget that nothing less than our deeds of love is pleasing to Christ our king. It cautions us that even though the truth is taught that the ultimate fates of believers and non-believers are different, yet the judgment of the unbelievers might turn out to be our own judgment for as long as we neglected to point the way of Christ’s kingship by living the deeds of the faith that we profess. So, the issue is straight and simple: Did you, or did you not, feed the hungry; clothe the naked, visit the sick, shelter the homeless?? Compassion to the needy and the deprived are owned by Christ as compassion done to himself. Its God’s own case here and, there are no appeals.

For our leaders, the vibes from today’s celebration should chide all drifting rulers who miss-govern their people, and who cause those they govern to be oppressed.  

 

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