The universal church yet again observes the very important annual celebration of the solemnity of Christ the King; a celebration which renews in Christ’s faithful, the remedial purpose of its establishment. Pope Pius XI (1922 – 1939) established the Feast of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas, and stipulated its celebration on the last Sunday of the month of October – the Sunday which immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints.
Pope Pius XI titled the feast “Jesu Christi Regis” (Our Lord Jesus Christ the King) In his 1969 motu proprio, Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI (1963 – 1978) gave the celebration a new title: “Jesu Christi universorum Regis” (Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe). He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday in Advent. Through this choice of date, the eschatological importance of this Sunday is made clearer, in this light; it was changed from being a feast to a Solemnity.
This Sunday reserves some eschatological importance because it marks the end to a new beginning in the Church’s Liturgical Year, where Christ in his first coming is being celebrated as the king of kings, and his second coming awaited.
Christians are admonished on the Solemnity of Christ the King, always to pray for the Kingdom of Christ in their lives as is prescribed in the Lord’s Prayer, Thy Kingdom Come.
Christ the King celebration in the Seminary
The Bigard family, in union with the universal church, celebrated this great feast of proclaiming Christ’s supremacy over all things. The celebration of Sunday, 20th November, 2016 was indeed a glamorous one, as Bigard community in communion with the Church, proclaims Christ to the world as the King of kings, and in faith awaits his second coming.
The occasion of the day which started with a Holy Mass and followed by a joyous procession along the streets of Bigard, saw to the traditional adorning outlook of the Bigard Chapel, decorated with white and gold, and filled to the brim with the formators, seminarians, lay staff, faithful of Holy Family Bigard Chaplaincy, and visitors from outside the seminary.
The first phase (Holy Mass)
In his Introductory remark to the Holy Mass of the day, the Rector, Very. Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Okechukwu Ikpenwa, who is also the Principal Celebrant, invited the Christ’s faithful to reflect on the message of the day’s celebration. In his words:
“I welcome you all with joy to this Eucharistic celebration, as today, we proclaim, acclaim and pronounce that Jesus Christ is the king of kings. This is the day the Church, in a very special way mapped out to honour and celebrate the kingship of Christ.
This feast should stir in us the desire to reconsider our decisions as Christians, and aim at becoming better and sincere followers of Christ, our king.
May this solemnity of Christ the king arouse and impart in us, good motives, and intense desire for holiness, and sincere devotion to Christ whose kingship we celebrate today.”
In his enriching and heart stirring homily which revealed that Christ as a King, Fr. Albert Ikpenwa acclaimed thus;
“We are gathered here to celebrate as a community of faith, Christ who is the king of the universe. It requires an act of faith to call Jesus king. Flesh alone does not have the capacity to proclaim Jesus as king, rather an act of faith is needed to identify and proclaim Jesus as king of kings.
Jesus of history is not believed to have anything to do either with kingdom or kingship, following his poor family background. Considering also what Nathaniel asked when he was invited to see Jesus, ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Christ did the petty carpentry work of his foster father, became a teacher, andyet had nowhere to lay his head. He had nothing, such that he borrowed a donkey to get to Jerusalem, these therefore suggest that Jesus had no physical requirements of being a king.
To understand the true concept of Christ’s kingship, we must first understand that humans have more than the flesh and blood. We have the spirit that sees beyond flesh and blood, and calls God Abba Father. It is the same spirit that identifies Christ as king. No one can call Jesus the Lord, if it is not through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12 : 3)
Many still misconceive and mistake the kingship of Christ in terms of material might. Humans tend to measure success with money. The success of Christ’s ministry was completely spiritual, and should not be attributed to anymaterial gains. In our world today, spiritual leaders who should teach the right thing to the people, amass riches with the misleading notion that they are not serving a poor God.
People indulge in several immoral acts in a cause to acquire wealth, and as a result lose the spiritual senses of today’s celebration. Let us today think twice about our conception of Jesus as king. The material things we need should not stir us into acclaiming Jesus as king, rather the fruits of the spirit should(Gal 5:22-25). My dear friends, seek ye first the kingdom of God and every other thing should be added unto you (Mtt. 6:33)
The Second phase (Procession)
After the Eucharistic celebration was the next part of the celebration. The second phase of the Christ the King celebration was the festive and grand procession, which visibly signifies the proclamation of Christ as the King who rules with justice and fairness. In the majestic procession, the Blessed Sacrament was carried along the streets of the seminary, where Christ the king of kings was venerated, amidst great jubilation as the seminarians and visitors joyfully proclaimed Christ to the whole world as the universal king with gunshots, drums and dancing.
The procession which lasted for about an hour ended in the chapel where Seminarians and other faithful who were present were greatly edified when the popular Igbo acclamation ‘onye bu Eze?’ was chanted by the Choir master, Mr. Ngwoke Bonaventure. This was followed immediately by the benediction. At the end of the benediction, the dean of students’ affairs, Rev. Fr. Remigius Ibudialo, on behalf of the Bigard family, rendered a hearty vote of thanks to all present, and to all those who saw to the success of the celebration. As the celebration came to an end, all went home in joy, announcing the supremacy of Christ as the King of all.