It is again Christ the King solemnity, when we reconfirm our allegiance to Jesus Christ our king and king of the universe. This feast compels us to declare all over again to ourselves and to the world that no matter what may happen we have no other king but Jesus. (Savour the song: I am so glad I belong to Jesus…) As we pray and proclaim that resolve all over the streets of the world today, some of the proverbs of African local traditions really must set us thinking. One of them, in the Yoruba language, declares that the king who reigns in prosperous and peaceful times will never be forgotten, nor will the king who reigns in disastrous and destructive times.
In other words, all rulers must bear the responsibility for the quality of life of their citizens during their regime, all through history. Well, these are indeed difficult times for many people all over the world. With the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, conflicts, protests and confrontations, the skyrocketing cost of living, food prices beyond the reach of the poor, meagre salaries, serious crimes all around and the collapsing security environment, many people feel totally helpless. It is thus “harvest time” then for finger-pointing, to determine who and what is responsible for the predicament of the ordinary people. By that logic leaders of our time at all levels should be held responsible, all the kings and rulers should answer for our woes.
Today Christians all over the world celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. How come then that we seem to exonerate him from blame for the world’s problems? So many people would in fact hold Jesus responsible, harangue him for allowing such bad things to happen to God’s people in Nigeria and all over the world. We call Jesus King of Kings, son of the all-powerful God. Why then they would say, would he allow Covid 19 to ravage populations, allow wars to occur, allow corrupt politicians to mess up elections, allow bad leaders, terrorists kidnappers, robbers, murderous policemen, and bad people run riot and oppress his people so much? Why would Jesus as God allow innocent blood to be spilt and let the cry of the suffering go unheeded? No, Jesus must answer for all this. If he is, as the Bible says: “Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace” (Is. 9:5), he too must account for not making things happen differently or relinquish his kingship.
What King is This?
However, the people of God must think more deeply.Such questions as are stated above are similar to those asked by one of the criminals crucified with Jesus on the cross: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well” (Lk. 23 39). But Jesus’ kingdom and kingship are far more comprehensive than what humans immediately contemplate. He came into this world for clear purposes which he declared by his own mouth. “The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Lk. 4:18). Jesus mission is both earthly and divine.
All his life Jesus pursued that purpose. He went about doing good, he healed the sick, cured the lame, gave sight to the blind and even raised the dead. He also called for repentance and reconciliation, for mercy and for love among peoples. For doing all this he was persecuted, betrayed, stoned, beaten and finally crucified. Jesus came to lay down his life, to serve, not to be served. He gave his life as a ransom for many (Phil 2 5-11). That is why no other king is like him. What more could Jesus Christ the king of Kings do?
The King is Not to Blame
So, the king is not to blame! This king said: I am the good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (Jn 10:11), I am the light of the world Feature The King is not to blame (Jn 8:12), I am the Bread of life (Jn. 6:35), I am the way; I am Truth and life (Jn. 14:6). On every one of these promises he proved reliable. No other king ever can be like him. So, for current woes, we cannot blame this king who gave all for his us? He himself said: “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). What we should acknowledge and blame is our human weakness that makes us collectively unable to follow the path of righteousness which Jesus has laid down for us, the concupiscence that makes us shun his example of life. Jesus said “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). But do we?
Hope Does not Disappoint
Nonetheless, in spite of our present challenges the king’s name is still Emmanuel. God is still with his people. He will save those who trust in him. He has not abandoned his sheep. It is of him the prophet Ezekiel declared: “I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view… I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness” (Ex. 34: 11). Saint Paul wrote confidently about him too, that he must be king until he has put all enemies under his feet …so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). That promise remains secure and so we have every reason to sing his praises
Let Us Get Our Acts Together
However, we must work out that promise by calling on our leaders and kings at every level, and we all are leaders. Be you a political, social, economic or religious leader, be you a traditional ruler, king or corporate head, God calls on you today: “Align yourself with king Jesus. Live a life of service. Enhance the life of the people you govern. Think less of yourself and more of others. Respond to the purpose of your status”. Jesus said “Love your neighbour as yourself ”. Pope Francis said: “Take the risk, and change the world for better”. The Dalai Lama said “Our purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them at least don’t hurt them”. I say, “Do good and good will come your way; by that, you pay the rent for the space you occupy in this world”. Leadership, kingship, rulership and primacy all have meaning and worth only if you make a better world. Let us heed and emulate King Jesus who invites us: “In my father’s house there are many places to live in” (Jn. 14:2). We err if we fail to do so. Therefore, commit yourself, praise him follow and you will reign with him. All hail the power of Jesus name! Amen
• Reflections on the Solemnity of Christ the King by Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Catholic Diocese of Oyo