Homily  Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe Year B- Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Dan 7:13-14; Ps 93:1, 1-2, 5; Rev 1:5-8 and John 18:33b-37
Partakers of the Kingdom of Christ!
2015 has witnessed leadership challenges, political turmoil and elections, wars, gun violence, terrorism, rise of ISIS, Boko-Haram, conflicts among nations and world leaders. Sometimes these could be distressful. Therefore, there can be no better and serene way to end this year’s liturgical season than to reflect on the goodness, love, peace, forgiveness, mercy, leadership style, justice and kindness of our maker, manifested in the kingship of his Son Jesus- the alpha and the omega and the source of our well-being. The readings of today remind us of Christ’s heavenly kingdom in contrast to this earthly kingdom, the beasts of the Book of Daniel!
The 1st reading, the Book of Daniel presents us the vision of Daniel, who personally lived through the pains of persecutions during exiles, in the hands of cruel earthly kings from Nebuchadnezzar to Antiochus IV. Daniel sees in his vision the downfall of his enemy –earthly kingdoms, described as the beasts, and the rise of the heavenly kingdom. Daniel’s vision revolves around the earthly level and the heavenly level, the material level and the spiritual level. The earthly and material kingdoms are connected to the 4 beasts, while the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of the holy ones are connected to the one like human being”, the Son of Man, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the one robed in majesty of today’s Psalm 93. He is the one spoken of in the 2nd reading, as well, the Book of Revelation 1:5-8. Revelation says, Christ is “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. By voluntarily going to the cross without military escorts, missiles, nuclear weapons, submarines and AK 47, Christ displays undiluted courage, unbeatable leadership, selfless/exemplary universal kingship and unequivocal love for us.
In his encounter with Pilate, an earthly king, in today’s gospel (John 18:33b-37) Christ allows his humility, spirituality, and leadership style to ironically speak for itself. When Pilate said to Christ, “Are you the King of the Jews,” Christ rather would like to know if Pilate asked the question on his own, or as a result of the fact that the Jewish and Roman elites were already discussing the Kingship of Christ, and by implication acknowledging Christ as King- for which reason they thought Christ be put on trial. But, ironically, the truth of the matter is that in John’s gospel Christ is not on trial, but Pilate and all those who refused to open up for the truth, and the love of Christ- who in the first place was sent into this earthly kingdom to love, to forgive, to testify to the truth and to invite us not only to acknowledge his dominion but partakers in his eternal kingdom.
How we respond to this heavenly kingdom would depend on how we internalize and practice the values of Christ – the owner of this kingdom: peace, love, faith, hope, forgiveness, humility, sense of justice, administrative prudence and kindness.
How we respond to the kingdom of Christ would depend on how we treat one another hourly, minute by minute, or on daily basis, irrespective of our position in familial, traditional, civil and ecclesiastical leaderships- “When I was prison did you come to visit with me” (Matt 25). How we respond to this kingdom would depend on how we practiced the Beatitude:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matt 5). Therefore, as we acknowledge Christ and his universal Kingship today, let us pray and strife to be partakers of the kingdom of Christ, and practitioners of his values.