At the end of every Liturgical year the Church celebrates the feast of Christ the universal King. She honors Christ as the king of the universe who sits on his throne at the right hand of God the Father and who will on the last day come to judge the living and the dead. This feast is of theological significance in the Church. On this day the Church celebrates the first coming of Christ in the incarnation and also expresses her hope on the second coming of Christ on the last judgment.
This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas (on the feast of Christ the king) in 1925. It was a response to the secularism of the time. The feast was from then celebrated on the last Sunday of October before the celebration of all saints till in 1969 when Pope Paul VI in his encyclical muto proprio mysteri paschalis, elevated it to the status of a solemnity and changed the date of its celebration to the last Sunday of November, the Sunday preceding the first Sunday of Advent. Since then the feast has been celebrated on this later date.
With the Universal Church Bigard family on Sunday, November 23, 2014 joined in showing Christ to the world as the universal king. On this day, the prestigious Bigard chapel was filled with an aura of royalty. The chapel well decorated with gold and other joyous colors was filled with the formators, Seminarians, the domestic workers as well as visitors from outside the seminary.
The Mass of the day which started at about 7.00am was presided over by Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Ukoro Theophilus Igwe, the Rector Bigard Memorial Seminary. At the beginning of the Mass, he said that Christ, the anointed one of God, is the universal king. Therefore we have gathered in faith and joy to celebrate Him as King. He prayed God to endow us with the grace to be able to open our hearts for Jesus to take full possession of our lives and our world that peace and unity may reign forever.
In his homily, he gave a succinct expose of the antecedents to the ministry of prophet Ezekiel. Prophet Ezekiel according to him was among the first part of the Jews to be deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in 6BC. Appointed by God there as His spokesperson, he was to instruct the Jews who were suffering in exile and explain to them appropriately why they were on exile.
Thus, Ezekiel in the first reading told the people that their suffering is as a result of the failure in leadership as well as the people’s insensitivity in playing into the hands of these leaders. He also consoled them not to despair, that God will come to their aid. God through Christ has come to assume the leadership role and to gather the scattered Children of Israel. This leadership of God will be fully realized at the parousia when Christ will come to gather together all the nations of the world on judgment day. Then each of us will be judged not based on our miraculous or ministerial deeds but based on our interpersonal relationship. The true mark of a Christian is anchored on interpersonal relationship.
According to Fr. Igwe, we are suffering in our world today especially Nigeria because our leaders have failed us by selfishly misappropriating the resources meant for the masses. Our leaders should have the interest of the masses at heart. We must begin to take this message of Christ seriously. We should therefore in the forth-coming elections vote for selfless leaders who will be of service to the masses by creating an enabling environment for their comfort.
The first part of the celebration was followed immediately by the second part which was the procession. The Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession within and around the seminary compound with stop-over at strategic positions for the veneration of Christ as the king of kings. The procession was done amidst pomp and pageantries as the seminarians and visitors joyfully proclaimed Christ to the whole world as the universal king with gunshots, drums and dancing steps.
The procession which lasted for about an hour ended in the chapel at about 10.35am. In the chapel Rev.Fr. Cyprian Ezeakunne Chanted the popular Igbo acclamation onye bu Eze. This was followed by the benediction. At the end of the benediction Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Igboanugo rendered the vote of thanks on behalf of the Bigard family. The day’s celebration was brought to a close with the procession of the priests and the minor ministers to the sacristy. And all went home announcing the universal kingship of God.