YEAR C: HOMILY FOR 34TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING.
THEME: HE HAS TRANSFERED US TO THE KINGDOM OF HIS BELOVED SONS!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
* 2 Sam 5: 1 – 3, Col 1: 12 – 20, Lk 23: 35 – 43.
At the beginning of every liturgical year we say ‘Maranata’ – Come, Lord Jesus! , but at the end of every liturgical year we say ‘Corpus Christi regnat’ – The body of Christ reigns! Permit me to dwell today on an aspect of what Jesus has done (salvation) that is already completed in the distant past – over 2000 years ago, and that is ‘Redemption’. Remember we have 3 ‘R’ s of salvation: Redemption, Repentance and Regeneration. Our business today is to understand and celebrate our redemption. If we understand this glorious past so well today, we would be better disposed to embrace the remaining 2 challenges of repentance and regeneration in order to claim salvation as a full package.
*B. THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS*
We want to focus our reflection today on the 2nd reading: ‘He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved sons in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins’.
The dominion of darkness means the following;
(i) The dominion of sin (especially mortal sins) in our lives, especially idolatry, adultery and greed.
(ii) The dominion of occultic forces, eg witchcraft, ogbanje (spirits of reincarnation), spiritual husbands, satanic initiations, etc.
(iii) The dominion of ancestral curses, family roots of sin, evil environmental foundations, parental curses, hereditary sins, faults and crimes, etc.
3 major sins that make Jesus not to reign in our lives are;
(i) Idolatry -perversion in our relationship with God.
(ii) Immorality – perversion in our relationship with fellow human beings and self. Adultery is the highest in the hierarchy of these perversions.
(iii) Greed /Vanity – perversion in our relationship with material things.
* Eph 5: 5 speaks about the relationship between immorality and idolatry. According to Henry Mencken, ‘To fall in love is merely to be in a state of perpetual anasthesis – to mistake an ordinary young man for a Greek god or an ordinary young woman for a goddess – that is idolatry’.
At Calvary, we had 2 classes of sinners aptly represented by the 2 thieves in today’s gospel;
(i) THE GOOD THIEF: The good thief believed in the kingdom of the crucified Saviour – the lordship of Jesus even on the Cross and said: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ . And so, Jesus, as in the case of Zacheus said: ‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise’.
* No wonder why Fulton Sheen said that ‘The worst thing is not sin itself but the denial of sin’ .
(ii) THE BAD THIEF: The bad thief kept deriding him like an anti – Christ: ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! Man of God! Let me see how God will save you today!
*C. THE MOCKERY OF JESUS!*
Come to think of mocking Jesus today, the bad thief is not alone . I have 5 other types of mockery which Jesus is suffering;
(i) Eucharistic mockery; Jesus is mocked daily when priests confect the Eucharist in a habitual state of mortal sin and Christians receive him in a habitual state of sin.
(ii) Pentecostal mockery; Jesus is mocked whenever there is weird mimickings of the Holy Spirit – When people pretend to work miracles or speak in tongues in Jesus’ name but actually the devil is doing it.
(iii) Idolatrous mockery; Jesus is mocked when there is an inordinate combination of faith in Jesus and faith in idols. Take note that on a day like this (Corpus Christi) people jirate in worship of Jesus (popping plenty of gun shots) sometimes only to do exactly the same for ‘Akatakpa’, ‘Odo’ or ‘Omabe’ and some of us support that as culture.
(iv) Sacramental mockery; All cases of abuse of sacraments and sacramentals are classified here as mockery of Jesus. The highest is the abuse of the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. The vows of ordination and matrimony are taken with complete irreverence to Jesus the principal stake holder at every sacrament. Marriage tribunals are not helping matters here sometimes.
(v) Miraculous mockery; Undue demand for miracles when we should look at the crucified Messiah is the exact repetition of what happened in today’s gospel.
*D. THE KINGDOM OF HIS BELOVED SONS*
He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved sons. This kingdom, according to Eph 1: 3 – 9 is characterized by the following spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ;
(i) Holiness, (ii) Adoption, (iii) Forgiveness of sins, (iv) Freedom, (v) Wisdom and insight, (vi) Heritage of prosperity and (vii) Praise of his glory.
We need to enthrone Jesus in our lives not just by mere confession of mouth but by sincere faith, Rom 10: 9, Act 4: 13, Rom 8: 1. He was proclaimed ‘King of the Jews’ both at his birth, Matt 2: 2 and death, Lk 23: 35. In dying, he confirmed his sovereignty. Yet, not everybody is part of this proclamation. ‘To those who accept him, who believe in his name he has given power to become children of God’, Jn 10:10.
*E. THE SALVIFIC PRAYER OF THE GOOD THIEF*
The salvific prayer of the ‘good thief’ is our prayer motif on a day like this. It was a prayer for spiritual deliverance not for mere physical deliverance.
* Story of Fr Obayi ‘s encounter with some ‘good armed robbers’ on his way to Asaba around 2am who asked him to pray for them. He blessed them and gave them some olive oils while they continued their operations. This is not my concept of the ‘good thief’ in today’s gospel.
The Saint is the repentant sinner – what matters is what you are when the Lord comes and not what you were.
The Catholic Marian intercessory cliche, ‘Holy Mary mother of God pray for us now and at the hour of our death’ is focused on the kairotic moment of salvation – the miracle of the last hour and is based on the understanding of Mary not as mediator of salvation but as a mediatrix of all graces, Lk 1: 29, Jn 2: 1-11.
Let’s not join the band wagon of those mocking /jeering at Jesus but those adoring and asking for his mercy. What he has done in the past – our redemption is a complete work. People should not tell you that this or that still remains to be done. The only thing that remains is our faith, repentance and surrendering to His Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us what the devil has done (through forces like witchcrafts) and what Jesus the King of the universe has done to undo his works. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us what the devil is doing through our Politicians during this election period to prevent the enthronement of Good Governance in Nigeria. Let us listen to the voice of the Spirit at such a time like this.
* Whenever you see me talk about Jesus he is the winner of my soul.
Happy Sunday dear friends!
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