YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING
HOMILY THEME: THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST THE APEX OF LOVE AND SERVICE
BY: Fr Augustine Opara
HOMILY: (EZ. 34:11-12,15-17,1COR. 15:20-26,28, MTT. 25:31-46)
Today is the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Sunday of our Liturgical Year. It is also a Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This feast day was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI who was concerned about the state of the world in the post-World War I period. People seemed to be lost about what had happened and the tense state that was in development. So, the Feast of Christ the King was established as a reminder to all about who is ultimately and eternally in charge.
Today, kings are merely a figurehead, a sign of a national loyalty, a reminder of history. So, when we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we’re celebrating the kings of the olden days. Kings at that time were given ultimate sovereignty, ultimate authority over people. What they said went. But now, they have a role, but it’s very minor. And it’s like the tiger that is toothless. It doesn’t have the kind of power that people sought, for those who aspired to be kings in the old days. Perhaps a lot of it goes back to the times of the French Revolution, when throughout Europe there was this feeling that somehow the kings had lost their right to rule and there was a great tumult through all the countries.
When Pope Pius XI, wanted to show what a real king is and what a real king should be. He deliberately said that we will celebrate Christ as the King, not building him up as if he was a superman, but presenting a man, beaten and mocked and crowned with thorns, with a bleeding side, people making fun of him. This was the King that he presented. It was Jesus on a cross, Jesus crowned with thorns, and was the one who came to heal us and save us. He explained his reasons for doing so in an encyclical letter called “Quas primas”. He instituted today’s Solemnity 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. (Quas primas, #19, 21). For him, we must bring Christ and Christian values into culture, politics, and every sphere of society, if we truly believe in Christ.
Christ’s kingdom is present until the end of time. It is present now, even in the current midst of chaos and fear happening in the world around us. To find it we need to look and listen for it. Chaos and fear are terrible distractions; they are not part of the heavenly kingdom. But to be ruled by Christ is essential to the life of a Christian. Of course, a man on the cross who says to his Father, “Forgive them, they know not what they do,” and lays his life down only for one reason: love. Because only love can save us and God only knows how to love by giving; self-sacrifice. God loves and loves and never stops loving, no matter how bad it is.
So that is what makes today an extremely important feast for us. At the end of the Church’s year, we are presented with the solution. A broken body on a cross? And He says to us in this gesture, “Now turn to each other, turn to each other and love as Jesus loved, care as Jesus cared, go the extra step as Jesus always did. Laugh when people are happy, weep with them when people are sad.” This is the one and the only way that this world will understand that it is God who is changing it. But He’s not going to change it by massive armies winning arguments, fighting back and forth.
My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, we are called to work with this King. And what then is expected of us? Mother Teresa tells us what real authority is; and that we, as followers of Jesus, should follow in the authority of love; because God is love, and unless we learn to love as Jesus loves, we will never touch God.
Happy feast day!
– Fr Augustine Opara