THEME: HOW DO I USE THE LITTLE AUTHORITY ENTRUSTED TO ME?
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara.
(2 SAMUEL 5:1-3; COLOSSIANS 1:12-20; LUKE 23:35-43)
The liturgical Year comes to its climax with the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This Solemnity is commonly called the feast of Christ the King. Technically it is the last Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the year before we begin a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. In the life of the church, this feast is a relatively new feast, only about 99 years old. And perhaps that’s why it comes at the very end of the church’s year. Next Sunday is a New Year’s Day. The originator of this feast in 1925, Pope Pius XI, said that Jesus must reign in our minds, our wills, our hearts, our bodies as instruments of justice unto God. (Quas Primus by Pius XI Dec 11, 1925). He instituted this feast as a corrective measure to the secular atmosphere of the times.
The Gospel periscope today shows the great mystery of our faith: In the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is shown to be King and Savior of all. Luke’s Gospel has been loaded with surprises: the poor are rich, sinners find salvation, the Kingdom of God is found in our midst. Here we see the greatest surprise of all. The irony is that the inscription placed on the cross, perhaps in mockery, contains the profoundest of truth. As the Leaders jeer, the thief crucified by his side recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King and finds salvation. St. Augustine tells us that “Others failed to recognize the Lord even as he performed miracles, but this man recognized him as he hung upon the cross… with his heart he believed, and with his lips he made [a] confession… Today you are with me on the tree of the cross, and today you will be with me on the tree of salvation.”
In many ways we see that Jesus’ kingdom is totally at odds with any display of power in this world. You would expect kings to receive important people and dignitaries, but Jesus received the lowly and rejected people of his time. A king might expect to receive a gift, but Jesus gave gifts. Kings wear crowns of gold or diamond. But Jesus wore a crown of thorns. On what throne do we see Jesus sitting in the Gospel today? It is the throne of the cross. Instead of the royal guards, there were people beneath his cross mocking him. So, Jesus’ idea of king and power is totally in contrast with the world’s idea of a king and power. That is why the preface in today’s Mass describes Jesus’ kingdom as “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace”.
The world challenges us daily to choose the rule of other powers: greed, violence, indifference, cruelty, aggression, etc. As a result, accepting Jesus’ rule is not a once-and-for all act, but it needs to be renewed each day by the deliberate choices we make. Being members in the reign of God, under Jesus’ kingship, can be very discouraging at times. Lots of people like to dominate others, abuse their power, and manipulate others. That has no place in Jesus’ kingdom. The values in Jesus’ kingdom are service and humility. If we want to be great, we must be like children. We are to carry our cross after Jesus every day. Jesus, the humble king, is an example to those who abuse power.
My brothers and sisters, this feast is an invitation to everyone who has power or authority of any kind no matter how infinitesimal it is, to compare their use of power or authority with Jesus. Are they using their power to serve others or to manipulate? Are they using their power for the building up of a more just society or to feather their own nest? Are they using their power in any way that might cause pain to others or in a way that could help to alleviate pain? We hope that nations and individuals will be humble enough to look at how Jesus used power and bring about the kingdom of God.
All hail Jesus the King of the universe!
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