THE REIGN OF CHRIST
Today, we celebrate the feast of CHRIST THE UNIVERSAL KING. Is he really King?
- IS JESUS KING OR NOT?
Once, after Jesus had fed a crowd of over 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish, they wanted to “take him by force and make him King.” (John 6:15) Jesus would have none of it. So, he ran away. Then at his trial, as found in today’s gospel text, Pilate asked Jesus if he was a King. Quite uncharacteristically, Jesus replied, “Yes, I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). So is Jesus a King or not? On the one hand, he did not want to be a King. And here he is declaring himself king! The apparent contradiction is resolved by what Jesus had said earlier. Prior to this, he had said, “My Kingdom does not belong to this world” (John 18:36)
- YES, JESUS IS KING!
When Jesus makes the statement: “My Kingdom does not BELONG TO THIS WORLD” (John 18:36), that is not understood to mean that the Kingdom of Jesus is not IN THIS WORLD, or this world is not part of his Kingdom. Rather, what it means is that the Kingdom of Jesus is not like any kingdom in this world. For one thing, it is not a PHYSICAL OR MATERIAL KINGDOM. It is rather a spiritual Kingdom. It is to be found in the hearts of men and women. In that sense, it is probably better to speak of the reign (RULE) of Jesus than of his Kingdom.
- The reign of Jesus is a spiritual one. This means that his reign transcends all time and space, unlike the Kingdoms of this world. Every reign, like that of Queen Elizabeth II of England, can be dated; that is, we can tell when it began, and when it shall end. People living at the time of every reign can say with precision when the rule started and when it ended. The reign of Jesus is ETERNAL. St. Luke tells us that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:33). That is to say, his reign is TIMELESS; it exists outside time. It was there before time began; it will still be there when time will be no more. His kingdom is called paradise, and that is why he promised the good thief: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). His kingdom is the destiny of all his followers, when they all die. Yes, we will have eternal life in his heavenly kingdom.
But there is a condition for anyone to inherit a place in that heavenly kingdom. When we pray in the OUR FATHER “your kingdom come” because we want to start living his kingdom here and now. In order to begin establishing that Kingdom here on earth St. Matthew tells us:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”
Yes, we can help establish the kingdom of Christ here on earth by feeding the hungry, giving water to thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, visiting the sick and those in prison. That is the calling of all Christians, to establish the kingdom of Christ on earth here and now, so that when our earthly pilgrimage is ended, we may inherit the eternal kingdom in its fullness.
- The reign of Jesus transcends all space. This means that his reign is not limited geographically. It cuts across all nations, the earth itself, all planets, galaxies, and the entire universe and beyond. He is the Jesus Christ “at whose name every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that He is the Lord, to the glory of god the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11) In the ‘song of the Lamb’ found in the book of Revelation, we read: “Just and true are your ways, O king of all nations”. (Rev. 15:3) No King, no emperor or president has ever reigned like that. None can ever reign like. None will ever reign like Christ!
- The subjects of Jesus’ Kingdom are those who choose to belong to it. The reign of Jesus is peculiar in another sense. Its subjects are those who choose to belong to it; they do not gain citizenship by birth. It is unlike the Kingdom or territory you either happen to be born in or you are living in where you have little or no choice. For instance, if one is born a Cameroonian, one would never be able to change that fact of being a Cameroonian–born. One has no choice in the matter. But where the reign of Jesus is concerned, one has a choice. One can choose to belong to it or not. That is why Jesus tells Pilate in the Gospel text of today: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37). Those who choose to belong to the Kingdom of Christ are those who heed his appeal: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mtt 3:2). It is such persons that Jesus addresses: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mtt 5:3).
- IT IS A KINGDOM OF TRUTH: One way of being a subject of the kingdom or reign of Jesus: we must belong to the truth. He says in the gospel of John, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). In Jn.10:10 Jesus says: “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full”. Again, he says in Jn. 18:37; “I came into this world to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth, listen to my voice”. Moreover, in Jn.8:31-32 Christ says, “If you are my disciples, you will learn the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Those who do not belong to the Lord hate the truth. That is why some politicians, economists, scammer, power mongers etc. build their power on lies. Their kingdom is the kingdom of this world. They say “yes” when they mean no. They declare “white” in the place of black. They pronounce “peace” when they mean war. In our country, people lie as they breathe, because they want posts/big appointments and curry favour with authority. Anyone who lies does not belong to this kingdom of Christ. We must be committed to the truth, to uphold to and live it in our lives, whatever the cost; because it would cost us an awful lot of challenges, persecution, the cross. That is what Jesus’ own pursuit of the truth fetched him. It will cost us no less.
The solemnity of Christ the King challenges us, Christians, to examine our conduct to the Truth, because our citizenship of the kingdom or reign of Jesus depends on that commitment.
My dear friends, everything being equal we would processing round this town with Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is not his symbol or his representative that we carry in procession. It is Christ himself. It is the same Christ who walked the streets of Nazareth, healed the sick, and cured the lame and the blind. It is this same Christ who is going to walk through our town today. He the same Christ over there in the Tabernacle. Look at him in the face and put all your problems unto him. He is the one who said “Come to me all you who labour and are over-burdened and I will give you rest.” Many of us are sitting here with all kinds of problems: A) Choose to belong to kingdom of Christ, B) Acknowledge him as you Lord and King, and C) Put your problems before Christ the King and he will help you.
However, let us not pretend in this exercise. If anyone knows that he/she has another king other than Christ, let him/her not waste time making a public show. If anyone has some small bag round his/her waist or is involved in occult powers, let him/her not waste time, dancing with Jesus today. When the procession moves, let him/her take the side road and escape back to his/her earthly kingdom of lies and death, of injustice, hatred and war. In our adoration, today we want to show the world, who we believe in. We believe in Christ the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.
May Jesus the King of kings give us the grace to accept him in our lives, put him first in everything we do, so that when our earthly span is done, he may welcome us in his Kingdom, where he lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.