Most Revd Wilfred Anagbe, CMF’s homily DELIVERED ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
THEME: NO STATE- NO LEADER CAN REWRITE REALITY
The solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is a modern celebration. Pope Pius XI added it to the liturgical Calendar in 1925, inspired to contradict the growing statism of communist and fascist movement that would give the civil authority preeminence over all human affairs.
Eight decades ago, in Germany, Bishop Johannes Schmidt preached on the feast of Christ the King against the neo-pagan attempt of national socialists to replace the spiritual realm of the Church with a new social order based on racism, tribal and clannish interests. The Vatican Radio broadcast his “magnificent sermon” to Germany and Germans, including his comment that no state has a right to rewrite reality.
Twice to make four, whether you are a German, an African, Japanese, or an Eskimo. There is a truth common to all mankind, and every nation is but a different incarnation of the same truth about man.
There are influences in our culture today that want to abdicate His throne by having the Church abandon the truths of the faith. There are also bolder attempts to overturn Christ’s kingship through judicial arrogance. Today you can read their opinions on newspapers as they say: “We have no king except Caeser”. It is the repetition of this moral arrogance that Pope Pius XI addressed when the governments of his time attacked the sanctity of life. Today we are being confronted with those social ills that prompted Pope Pius XI to address the powers that made issues of abortion as the right of the woman to terminate life, same sex marriage- LGBTQ + sexual promiscuity and political arrogance. But we need to know this fact: God and His Word do not change: there never would have been a debate fifty years ago over redefining marriage or sin. Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Heb 13:8), what changed? Christians gradually became silent and inconsequential in our culture. As a result, we have reached the point where activists are forcing conformity and calling it tolerance.
The problem has been demonized: believers are either not getting the message at Church, nor building their own foundation of faith, or are unwilling to be God’s messengers in public. Perhaps it is a combination of these. When Christians fail to speak truth about the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the issue of sin, our society grows worse.
Cultural sanity can only return to our society with obedience to the kingship of Christ, and no national assembly, state assemblies, or supreme court, or synod can contradict Him without contradicting its own integrity. In 1970, Blessed Pope Paul VI changed the feast of Christ the King to the Climatic Sunday of the liturgical year, to declare to all the world that our Divine Sovereign “was and is to come”. In 1997, St John Paul II said:
His was a shameful death, but it represents a confirmation of the Gospel proclamation of the Kingdom of God. In the eyes of His enemies, the death should have been proof that all He had said and done was false: If He is the King of Israel; let Him come down from the Cross, and we will believe in Him (Mt. 27:42). He did not come down from the Cross, but, like the Good Shepherd, He gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11). The confirmation of His royal power, however, came a little later, when on the third day He rose from the dead, revealing Himself as “the First-born of the dead (Rv 1:5).
There is a very interesting and moving story about King Canute II, entitled, “king Canute on the Sea Shore”:
Canute II, who reigned during the eleventh century, was the first Danish king of England. In this famous tale, he proved to be a man who knew how to control his pride. It is a good lesson for all who aspire to high office. Like many leaders and men of power, King Canute was surrounded by people who were always praising him. Every time he walked into a room, the flattery began: “You are the greatest man that ever lived”, one would say. “O king, there can never be another as mighty as you”, another would insist: “Your highness, there is nothing you can not do”, someone would say, smiling. “Great Canute, you are the monarch of all”, another would sing, “nothing in this world dares to disobey you”.
The king was a man of sense, and he grew tired of hearing all such foolish speeches. One day, he was walking beside the sea shore, and his officers and courtiers were with him, praising him as usual. Canute decided to teach them a lesson. “So you say I am the greatest man in the world?” he asked them. “O king” they cried, “there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there never will be anyone so great, ever again.” “And you say all things obey me?” Canute asked. “Absolutely!” they said, “the world bows before you and gives you honour.” “I see”, the king answered, “In that case, bring me my chair, and we will go down to the water.” “At once, your majesty!” they scrambled to carry his royal chair over the sands. “Bring it closer to the sea” Canute called. “Put it right here, right at the water’s edge”. He sat down and surveyed the ocean before him. “I notice the tide is coming in. Do you think it will stop if I give the command?” His officers were puzzled, but they did not dare say no. “Give the order, O great king, and it will obey.” One of them assured him. “Very well sea”, cried Canute, “I command you to come no further! Waves, stop your rolling! Surf, stop
your pounding! Do not dare touch my feet!” He waited a moment, quietly, and a tiny wave rushed up the sand and slapped at his feet. “How dare you” Canute shouted, “Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!” And in answer, another wave swept forward and curled around the king’s feet. The tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher. It came up around the king’s chair and wet not only his feet but also his robe. His officers stood around him, alarmed and wondering, whether he was not mad. “Well, my friends,” Canute said, “it seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps you have learned something today. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one king who is all-powerful, and it is he who rules the sea and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hands. I suggest you reserve your praises for him.
The royal officers and the courtiers hung their heads and looked foolish. And some say, Canute took off his crown soon afterwards and never wore it again.
Listen to another story that leaves us with similar lessons. It is a story of Henry III of Bavaria. Henry III was a God-fearing king, but the demands of being a ruler did not leave him much time for spiritual exercises. One day, he got so fed up of being a king that he went to Prior Richard at the local monastery and asked to be admitted as a monk for the rest of his life. “Your Majesty” said. Prior Richard, “Do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.” “I understand,” said Henry, “The rest of my life, I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.” “Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.” King Henry returned to his throne, served his people instead of ruling them, and became a saintly king.
In recent weeks, the incumbent president had proposed a plan to build camps for displaced persons in designated housing units “so that the Fulani herders can have the land to graze freely,” thus “curtailing communal clashes” in their minds. This proposal is very disgraceful, shameful, and problematic on many fronts:
a. Outrightly, it means ranching people (human beings).
b. That the indigenous people will now become incarcerated in their ancestral land for no faults of theirs, while the invading Fulani herders, having killed close to a million indigenous people, will be rewarded with open grazing.
c.That Instead of ranching cattle and allowing the indigenous people to continue with their lawful farming activities, they will now be the ones ranched, and the Fulani herders continue with open grazing. How colonizing can this be.
d.With this proposal therefore, the traditional farming activities of the Tiv farmers will be disrupted and discontinued, leaving them dependent on where ever food comes from, and making them perpetual paupers, while the Fulani prosper in their pastoralist enterprise. What will Tiv displaced persons be doing to earn their means of livelihood?
e. But we also know that in this uncultured proposal, the goal is to bring Islamic infuence into as many communities as possible, so that with time the spread of Islam will expand while Christianity is ranched and relegated to controlled settlements.
f. The grand agenda of Islamic terrorists working hand-in- hand with the government through the backdoor is to eventually make it easier to colonize Christian controlled territories and possibly force them to convert or
exterminate them under a silent approval and watch of the Muslim-dominated government.
g. Apart from the fact that my diocese is under gross attack by the terrorists masquerading as herders, resultantly having about 13 Parishes or Pastoral Units closed, thus needing social and capital support for our Christian Faithful currently housed in IDPs’ camps with poor care and feeding, it is important for governments, civil society groups, and human activists to join the oppressed Christians in the North and Middle Belt regions of Nigeria, to speak against this gross dehumanization of Christians as if we are an isolated group of witnesses in a vast abyss of despair.
h.These grand plans to sack indigenous Christian communities from their ancestral land for occupation of Muslims under the guise of pastoral activities is well funded and supported by the Islamic league in Saudi Arabia and Iran under the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA), through the agencies of Boko Haram and Fulani Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (FCBAN).
i. But my question is: How come governments at all levels have no guts to declare WAR on Fulani herdsmen terrorists strangulating and terrorizing people? Are they above the LAW? What is the secret beyond being compromised that makes security people afraid of engaging the Fulanis and fush them out of their hideouts? I know OUR POLITICIANS KNOW THESE ANSWERS, but maybe there is too much they have SEEN OR TAKEN in their hands, from the Fulanis, that is too beneficial, and so we are in for it. They are there surrendering our communities to the Fulani herdsmen terrorists. Where will our people have their farms when you have locked them in camps? These and many more are my questions.
There are two images of how we are to live. One image is of empire, domination, and power. The other is of invitation and service. All of us at one time or another have to choose which one will motivate our lives.
As Jesus explains it, there is only one way to exercise power in this world, and that is for the sake of the powerless we have with us right now staring at us in the face: the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. Those who are at the helm of afairs should exercise this position of leadership by making sure that the IDPs return to their homes that have been destroyed by Fulani Terrorists, they are not asking the government to build camps for them, they are yearning and desirous of returning to their ancestral home lands. Nothing more, nothing less. Help them to go back home and live a meaningful and decent human life.
In order to address the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Benue State, let me make a proposal, which is a potential solution. This could involve the establishment of a Benue Valley Development Commission (BVDC). This commission would have the specific functions of securing the land and resettlement of IDPs and facilitating the reconstruction of their ancestral homes, which have been destroyed by Fulani herders' militia/terrorist activities.
The BVDC would aim to provide comprehensive support and assistance to the afected communities, drawing inspiration from successful precedents, like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), established to curb hostilities, and the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), which helped in curtailing the difculties of the inhabitants, especially those afected by the terrorism of Boko Haram.
The primary goals of the commission would be to ensure the safe return and reintegration of IDPs into their communities, as
well as to rebuild the infrastructure and livelihoods that have been destroyed and disrupted by the activities of the Fulani terrorist herders.
The BVDC would need to collaborate closely with relevant stakeholders, including local communities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international partners. It would require a coordinated effort to provide security, create sustainable resettlement plans, and mobilize resources for the reconstruction process. The commission will also prioritize addressing the root of the confict, which is the grand master plan by the Fulanis, to annihilate our people and grab their lands.
It is important to note that the establishment of the BVDC would require political will, honesty, abandonment of the rascality of government offcials and political brigandage, financial resources, and a long-term commitment to ensure its efectiveness. The experiences of other regions in Nigeria can provide valuable lessons and best practices, but it is crucial to tailor the approach to the specific context of Benue State.
By implementing a comprehensive approach through the BVDC, it is possible to address the one single and most important need of internally displaced persons in Benue State which is to resettle them on their ancestral land and provide security for them against the terrorists.
And for those who are spreading the narrative that Tiv people are killing themselves, I make haste to warn all those involved in this cheap blackmail to stop this useless propaganda. But I have once questioned: granted, as they are adding the rumours, Tiv people are killing themselves, but who are those bringing the cows to destroy our farms? Please, in the name of God, let those people go and find some other gainful employment, else they are endangering their souls to eternal
damnation. If I may ask again: who are those killing people in Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara, as well as kidnapping and destroying lives and properties in this country ? Jesus Christ is suffering in these homeless people with these sick persons. Christ is in them. Do these things for your people, and the blessings of God will be your reward, here and in the world to come.
WE HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN LOVE OF POWER AND POWER OF LOVE
+Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe, CMF Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi