HOMILY FOR 34TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B; SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
THEME: “THE LORD IS KING; HE IS ROBED IN MAJESTY.”
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY NOVEMBER 21 2021
First Reading: Daniel 7:13-14
Psalm 93:1. 1-2. 5
Second Reading: Revelation 1:5-8
Gospel Reading: John 18:33b-37
Today is the 34th and the last Sunday in Ordinary time and traditionally on this Sunday we solemnly celebrate the feast of “Christ the King,” a feast of God’s Kingdom – God’s Rule. With this we also come to the grand finale of the Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and with that we go on to the new Liturgical Year C. And as we come to the end of this liturgical year, and as always, we look to the future; the ultimate future when Christ the King will return in glory for the final judgment: “The Lord is King; he is robed in majesty.”
The Feast we celebrate today was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man’s thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.
As we celebrate today Christ the king of the universe, we have to get the notion of his kingship correctly. The earthly kings rule over people within a given jurisdiction and territory. Their sovereign is limited to boundaries and borders. The tenure of earthly kings is limited to time. There can only be a king for as long as time permits. Even where kingship is in perpetuity, the duration lapsed when death arrives. To inspire submission, obedience, faithfulness and devotion from their followers, earthly kings would often employ the use of force or threat of punishment.
Different from the earthly notions of kings and kingdom, Christ kingship extends beyond borders, boundaries and territories. His kinship is both in time and eternity. Neither does he employ the force of coercion or threat of punishment to inspire love, faithfulness and devotion from his followers.
Some years ago, an American soldier on a bus in Sweden told the man sitting next to him – “America is the most democratic country in the world. Ordinary citizens may go the White House to see the President and discuss things with him.”
The man said – “That’s nothing. In Sweden, the King and the people travel on the same bus.”
When the man got off the bus, the American was told by other passengers that he had been sitting next to King Gustav Adolf VI.
Yes, Jesus Christ too, the ‘King of kings’ travels in our ‘life bus,’ with us towards heaven, our ultimate destination. He is our Lord and King and in him we live and move and have our very being. He is not just part of our life, but he is at the very center of all our living, and also the beginning and the end, ‘the Alpha and the Omega’ of our life and all life, as the second reading reminds us today.
Dearly beloved in Christ, the question for us today is “IS CHRIST TRULY OUR KING?” or we see him as just king for the others.
If our answer is YES as I presume it would be, then we should be conscious of the implications of accepting Christ as our king. If truly Christ is our king, does our way of life in any way show that we are Christ followers? Because there is difference between knowing him to be king and accepting him as king. If we truly accept his kingship, then as his subjects we are morally bound to listen to his voice, because his voice is truth (John 18:37) and surrender our lives to his will.
When our lives are surrendered to the will and rule of Jesus Christ our Lord, we are counted in to the kingdom of God. As our King, Jesus deserves to be served, obeyed, honored and glorified. As we do so we have this assurance: unlike human kings, Jesus the Divine King is alone perfect and holy. He came to serve and not to be served, and he offered his life as a ransom for us sinners. As we celebrate the Kingship of Christ today, let us remember the truth that he would not be truly our King if we do not listen to him, if we do not love him, if we do not serve him and if we do not follow him every day of our life.
Hence, it is not enough for us to go out in public procession, proclaiming Christ as King of the universe. We need to assess our commitment to Christ the King today. We belong to his Kingdom only when we try to walk with him, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel and when that Gospel spirit penetrates every facet of our living. If Christ is really King of my life, he must be King of every part of my life, and I must let him reign in all parts of my life.
Because it is with this vision of Christ as our King that we are inspired and empowered to return next week to the starting point and begin the journey again. Next week it will be first Sunday of Advent and we will begin again to prepare the way of the Lord. Next year, like this year, we will each be on our own journey. We, too, will walk through plains of ordinary day to day living, through our own valleys of shadow and up to our own high places of good news, joy and excitement. There will be times in the journey when we will get lost or discouraged, confused or stuck and those are the very times when we will need this vision of Christ the King to give purpose and meaning to our journey just as it gives purpose and meaning to the Church’s journey of faith. So let us be committed to him our king with our lives and help others to see and come to know him as the only one supreme king of the universe.
We would be failing in our responsibility to our king if we fail to hand on the faith to the next generation, if we do not first of all try to foster in children and young people a sense of the majesty of God’s holiness: that Christian faith is a matter of striving to make contact with the transcendent God, opening ourselves to his influence, entering the mystery of his life.
We would be failing in our job if we do not try to convey the mystery of the Cross at the heart of the Christian faith, the fact that we are called to be citizens of a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom that stands in opposition to all the egotism and self-seeking of this world.
We would be failing in our duty if we do not present Christ as the turning-point in history, if we continue to give the impression that all religions and philosophies are of equal value and people should just pick them according to taste and inclination. We are called to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel as Jesus himself did in the gospel today.
In our story from John we see that this King is nothing like the kings of this world and his power is not the sort of power this world understands.
We have heard and felt a lot this year and even these past weeks about power in this world. The world’s powerful men are making their power felt through terrorism. Terrorists have exerted power to destroy innocent men and women. Nations continue to meet that terrorism with the violence of powerful guns.
Jesus was right. If his kingship belonged in this world his followers would have responded with violence and fought to defend him and to bring down the occupying forces.
Christ the King has been with us throughout our journey this year.
Christ the King will go with us on our journey through next year.
Today as we celebrate this eternal presence of Christ the King in bread and wine let us pray that his spirit will bring us refreshment, peace and whatever else our hearts need for the journey that lies ahead. Amen.